Joliet man known for being great cook and ‘honest to the core’
By Denise Baran-Unland For the Herald-News October 21, 2012 7:52PM
Updated: November 23, 2012 6:07AM
Sally Ford of Bolingbrook met her husband Jim Ford on a Feb. 7 at Bobby’s Tap in Joliet, a convenient stopping point between work and home for them both.
Jim told the bartender, “Get that girl a shot,” and he and Sally immediately began talking. They closed the bar that night and for many nights afterward.
One day Jim, a master at building and designing medical technology for KCI (Kinetic Concepts Inc.) and fantastic, chef-quality meals for friends and family, helped Sally move into a new apartment and never left, Sally said.
“Jim was not an ordinary man,” Sally said. “He was honest to the core. If something went wrong, we fought to make it work. We would not give up on each other.”
Jim had learned to cook sans recipes from his mother, a chef at an all-female dormitory. He carried his cooking skills into the United States Navy where he cooked and baked inside nuclear submarines. When he returned home, Jim worked as an ambulance driver in Connecticut, which led to his career at KCI. “Jim even delivered a baby,” Sally said. “He was very proud of it.”
At home, Jim preferred working alone, but he could churn out the best breads and pies, especially green tomato pie. No family affair was complete without Jim’s deviled eggs or an extra chocolatey dessert for the nieces and nephews.
“And he always made extra for them to take home,” Sally said.
With his deep voice, Jim played the perfect Santa Claus during family gatherings and he extended that same generous spirit at harvest time, too. Jim’s garden had more than 50 tomato plants, as well as grape vines and dwarf apples trees. He canned tomatoes and pickles and shared the abundance with his neighbors.
“This year with the drought, the garden never really took off,” Sally said. “It’s like the ground knew he was dying.”
Seven years ago, Jim had been diagnosed with stage four melanoma. Despite cancer treatments, Jim worked a midnight shift nearly all the way up to his Sept. 11 death at the age of 59. Because of 9/11, flags were flying at half-mast, but Sally thought it fitting that Jim, who was proud of having served his country, died on such a significant day.
During the years Jim was sick, Sally rarely missed any of Jim’s chemotherapy treatments. A nurse shared with Sally that one in two cancer patients’ marriages end in divorce and how that unwavering support from Sally had added years to Jim’s life.
Sally explained that she and Jim were in it “for better, for worse,” “for richer, for poorer” and “in sickness and in health.” Besides, cancer was not the first health challenge the two shared.
Years ago, Sally was recovering from major surgery when Jim had a heart attack. “Going through cancer with Jim made me a stronger person,” Sally said. “I added years to his life? He added years to my life.”
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249 or email@example.com.