Frank Kenneth Ford was born not long after World War II ended on October 1, 1945, in Moorefield, West Virginia. Moorefield is a farming community. According to the documents that I have researched, Frank’s family lived in this Appalachian Region for six generations. His Great-great-great-grandmother Hannah C. Method lived in this mountainous terrain before it became a state.
West Virginia separated from Virginia before the Civil War in 1861 over their abolitionist views. The West Virginians had small farms that did not use many free laborers to manage, unlike the large plantations Virginia planters who used enslaved African Americans to work their land. The separation had been building up over time. They attempted to separate twice as the 14th colony in the 1700s. When Virginia seceded the Union, the Western part of Virginia took advantage to be independent of the state.
Frank’s mother, Anna Mae Ford, more than likely met his father, Kenneth Frank Holly, during one of her visits to Cumberland, Maryland, where her brother, Charles, was an Interior Decorator and owned a Rooming House. Anna Mae and Kenneth married other people, not one another. Anna Mae married Army Veteran, Harold Lloyd Redman. Frank grew up on his stepfather’s family farm in Moorefield with his older half-brother Carl until Lloyd’s death.
From country roads to city streets, when Frank was 11 years old, his Aunt Catherine and her husband, Harold Green, collected him, Carl and Anna Mae, to live with them in Columbus, Ohio. It was a significant transition from living on a large farm to a modest home on Granville Street. Frank adjusted well. He was familiar with city life from his Los Angeles visits to his father’s home.
He excelled in Columbus Public schools. He graduated from Central High School in its vocational automotive program when he was only 16 years old. Before graduating high school, he fathered his first child, Juanita, at 15. The mother of his daughter was his best friend’s sister. The teens did not marry. Frank would continue to father children, Tina, myself, and Tony out of wedlock with teens even as he reached adulthood.
For the love of cars, Frank was a master at what he did. He could drop an engine in nine minutes flat into a vehicle. When he was a teen, Ford Motors Plant in Detroit offered him a position in their MIT program. Frank worked in various roles in the automotive field. He worked as the head mechanic for the Cadillac Dealership on Long Street at 19 years old. While repairing cars, if a part was not available to replace it. Frank would make the auto part. I remember him telling me that he owned a Used Car Sales lot, called Ford Motor Cars on Cleveland and 5th avenue. He actually managed the lot. One night he picked me up on his way to make the bank deposit. I sat in the back seat, hugging that bag of coins like a Teddy Bear. He told me we were rich. And I believed him.
In the 1970’s Frank became acquainted with a successful attorney, Steven Kovacik, who collected luxury cars. Kovacik employed Aunt Catherine as his stepdaughter’s nanny. Frank and Steven’s relationship evolved into a working one as he became his chauffeur and personal assistant to Kovacik. Frank drove him to work in the morning and picked him up in the evening. During the day, Frank would drive around the city, impressing women with the two-seater convertible Porsche and the kissing doors Rolls Royce. He was an immaculate dresser, a ladies man, and a charmer. Despite being a mechanic, Frank kept his fingernails manicured. He played the role of a successful businessman. His progeny expanded with son Franklin, and daughters London and Dionna.
In the early ’80s, he relocated to his father’s hometown, Cumberland, Maryland. It is a little over an hour away from Moorefield. By this time, Frank was married. His youngest son, Franklin, stepson, Thomas, and nephew, Vincent, accompanied him. They lived with Uncle Charles in his duplex. Their Cumberland stay only lasted less than two years. He returned to Ohio divorced and with two more sons, Kenneth and Jamal. While in Maryland, he worked in construction and suffered a leg injury. His leg healed, but his mental health began to decline.
It was sad to watch him fade away from the person he once was.
He died in July 2003. The exact date is unknown because he lived alone. He was found in his bed unresponsive.
Have you ever saw someone in passing and thought to yourself, that person has my face. Then ask yourself, I wonder if that person is related to me?
I hope to see all my siblings one day and meet my nieces and nephews.