Ford is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. He is also the principal investigator for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Advanced Camera for Surveys at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
Ford said his first interests in astronomy began when he was a child growing up in Granite. At that time, schools let out during the fall for the cotton-pulling season. Ford saved all his money from pulling cotton and bought his first telescope.
"I had this really naive idea that I was going to be able to pay for this telescope by letting people look at the planets for a nickel each," Ford said. "It would have taken everyone in Granite looking through it to get my money back." But, he said, he did set it up one night in front of the old Cozy Theater to let people see the rings of Saturn. A few kind souls gave him a nickel, and he made about 15 cents that night.
After high school, Ford attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he majored in Physics and Math -- a precursor to his now chosen field of astronomy.
He also gave a presentation to the Granite fifth and sixth graders Monday morning. His interesting, intellectual, yet down-to-earth program took students on a journey to explore Mars, comparing certain areas of the planet to the area of Lake Vostok in Antarctica. He also explored the possibility of extraterrestrial life that could one day be found on the planet Mars.
Matt Berry, 18-year-old senior at Granite, was able to enjoy the program and visit with Ford afterward. Berry is very interested in engineering, especially rocket engineering.
"Ever since I was a kid I've loved all the sciences," Berry said. "Two summers ago I went to the OSU Flight Aerospace Academy, and that really got me interested."
Berry plans to pursue the field and looks forward to attending Oklahoma State University in Stillwater after he graduates this spring.
The foundation presented Ford with two plaques -- one of which will be displayed in the school library -- highlighting his achievements.
Ford is the son of H.C. (Jr.) and Lavita Ford of Granite. He and his wife Marilyn reside in Baltimore and they have four children: Hollie, Linda, David and Esther.
"We are very proud to have a native son that has reached this level in his profession," said foundation secretary Brenda Willis Hickerson. "We think the state of Oklahoma would feel the same."