WILLISTON MERRICK FORD, son of Isaac N. and Sevilla (Hawley) Ford, was born 23 June 1886 in Brooklyn, New York. His father was connected with the "New York Tribune" for forty-two years, seventeen of them as London correspondent. While his family was living abroad, he prepared for college at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard College, graduating in 1908 with an A.B. degree. He was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He spent an additional year at Harvard in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences taking courses in ministry before attending Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) degree in 1911. He was ordained a deacon in June 1911 by the Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts.
From 1911-1913, he served as curate at Christ Church in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He was ordained to the priesthood in June 1912 by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Frederick Davies, Bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. On 13 April 1913, he succeeded the Rev. Arthur Lewis Bumpus as vicar of St. Andrew's Church in Ayer, Massachusetts and its mission in Forge Village. He was married to Anne Pattullo Campbell, deaconess at Christ Church, on 6 June 1913 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in a festive ceremony performed by the Rev. George H. Thomas, rector of Christ Church, assisted by the Rev. Dr. Endicott Peabody, headmaster of Groton School. She was the daughter of Archibald J. and Margaret (Pattullo) Campbell of London, Ontario, Canada. They had no children.
The 25th anniversary service of the founding of St. Andrew's, held when Rev. Ford was vicar, took place on the evening of 20 October 1914. The Rev. Sherrard Billings, chaplain at Groton School, opened the service. The Rev. Dr. William G. Thayer, founder of St. Andrew's and headmaster at St. Mark's School, delivered the anniversary sermon. The Rev. Dr. Endicott Peabody read the closing prayers. Later that evening, Dr. Thayer recalled, "It is the the priests and laymen of Groton School that we give our most appreciative gratitude and thankfulness, who have given freely of their time, their means, and their services for St. Andrew's Church. Dr. Peabody was the father of the thought, and his support and cooperation through all these years are responsible for the existence and continuance of the church's life."
In 1917, after four years of service to St. Andrew's, Rev. Ford became priest in charge of the Episcopal Church missions in the communities of Montrose, Olathe, and Ouray, Colorado, located high in the Rocky Mountains. In 1920, he was named priest in charge of the mission in Paso Robles, a village in the coastal mountain range in central California. From 1923-1928, he was rector at Church of the Incarnation in San Francisco. From 1929-1942, he was rector at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, the oldest continually occupied Episcopal church in San Francisco. During the Great Depression, he wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which he stated, "The chief opposition to Administration reforms has been the chiseling of big business...." He encouraged the president "to take more radical steps toward an economy of abundance,--braving the opposition of Big Business interests...." In 1942, he was vicar at St. Andrew's By-The-Lake Church, in Lake Elsinore, California. In 1942-1943, he was priest in charge at the San Diego Housing Projects. From 1943-1949, he was vicar at St. John's Church in Chula Vista, California. From 1949 until his retirement in 1952, he was again called to be vicar at St. Andrew's By-The-Lake Church, in Lake Elsinore, California.
He was the author of eight books, including "The Healing Words of Jesus"; "Quest - An Agelong Romance", 1953; "The Master and Disciple", 1954; "Our Healing Christ Indwelling", 1960; and "Grail - An Agelong Romance", 1961.
The Rev. Williston Merrick Ford died on 11 January 1971 in San Diego, California at the age of 84. His ashes were sent to Buffalo, New York for burial in the Ford family lot at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
1. Bennett, Mrs. Frank Silas History of St. Andrew's Church: Ayer, Groton, Forge Village 1892-1942 (Ayer, Massachusetts: St. Andrew's Church, 1944), 17-18.
2. The Clerical Directory of the Episcopal Church 1968 (New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1968), 155.
3. "Ford-Campbell," Boston Daily Globe, Boston, 7 June 1913, 10.
4. Harvard Alumni Directory - A Catalogue of Former Students Now Living (Cambridge: Harvard Alumni Association, 1919), 246.