After a long, hard-fought battle with lung cancer, Peter Blythe Ford passed away at the home of his daughter and her family in Baltimore, MD, on Feb.13, 2014. He is survived by an incredibly large family: his wife Tonia Harvey, daughter Heather Ford (husband David) and sons Christopher (wife Mari), William (wife Sno), Charris (wife Dulcie), and Shandaken Ford (wife Julia), as well as by his step-children Bruce Harvey (wife Trisha), Heather Yacapraro (husband John), and Jennifer Elzey (husband Mark). Peter has a large extended family as well, reaching all the way from Canada and across the United States. He is also survived by his brothers’ families, all of whom were touched by Peter: his brother Bill’s daughter Lexanne Koenig, his brother Sam’s family (wife Celeste, children Timothy, Drew, Becca, and David), his brother Doug’s family (wife Julie, first wife Diane, children Kelly, Kevin, Frazey, Azad, and Aidan), and his brother Gary’s family (wife Callie, children Corina and Jamie). Peter had numerous grandchildren: Kelsey, Cody, and Madeline Tracey; Corina Harvey; Shane and Chance Ford; Kashius and Phoenix Ford; and Shandaken, Skylar, and Bryce Ford. Peter influenced an incredible amount of people throughout the world, and had friends beyond number from every place he ever lived.
Peter was born May 1, 1938, in Houston, TX to Sam and Neda Ford. Because Peter had very bad asthma as a child, Peter and his parents moved to Casper, WY, in 1940. Some of his fondest memories came from the years he grew up in Casper. He was the oldest of five boys: Bill, Sam, Doug, and Gary. Peter graduated from Natrona County High School in Casper in 1956. From there, he and his first wife, Eugenia Wood, moved to Laramie where they attended college at the University of Wyoming. There they had a daughter, Heather. After graduating in 1959, Peter received the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to attend Princeton University. They moved to New York City, where they had two sons, Christopher and William. In 1967, Peter and his family moved to Woodstock, NY, where Peter was a substitute school teacher. During this time, Peter and his first wife divorced, and he met and had two sons with Marilyn Baer, Charris and Shandaken. In 1978 he met Tonia Harvey, and they lived on and worked for the Ft. McDermitt Paiute/Shoshone Indian Reservation until 1983. They then moved to Baker, NV, where he commuted 140 miles roundtrip, five days a week, to work at the Ely Shoshone Colony in Ely, NV. He and Tonia shared over 36 years together.
Peter led a jam-packed, interesting, and varied life. He won a Golden Key Award in advertising, taught English literature at Drexel University while attending Princeton University, and wrote grants for the Paiute and Shoshone Indian tribes. Peter was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa key upon graduation from the University of Wyoming. He was one of the first volunteer EMT’s in Baker, and he received a nursing degree later in life, which he always felt was one of his crowning achievements. He loved to fight the good fight and “stick it to the man”, and was involved in many political grassroots movements – from fighting the Las Vegas water grab in Snake Valley, to protesting the Vietnam War back in Woodstock.
There will be a memorial in Baker, NV, on April 5, 2014 to celebrate Peter’s life. He influenced and played a large role in many people’s lives, and all are invited to be there. It will be held at the Baker Hall at 1:00 pm (PDT). Daffodils will be planted in his honor in Central Park. This was something he did for many of the people in his life who died, and it was his request that the same be done for him. He enjoyed the daffodils for what they were, one of the first signs of life in spring after a long winter’s sleep.