Dr. Thomas Carroll
Dr. Thomas Carroll (“T. C.”) Ford was born on February 27th, 1920 on a farm in Oklahoma to Jonas and Cora Ford. During his early childhood the dust bowl hit Oklahoma and his family had to leave the farm and move into town. He finished high school when he was 16 and had the desire to become a doctor. Since he had no funding, he got a job at an Oklahoma college as a maintenance man which enabled him to take classes without paying tuition. He studied math and the sciences in what today would be called Chemical Engineering with the plan to find a job and save money for medical school.
Upon graduation, he went to work for Phillips Petroleum, at the time the original Mr. Phillips was still running the company. During his time at Phillips he was awarded several patents and was kept out of WWII because of his work with synthetic rubber.
At the end of WWII he was accepted into medical school having achieved the highest score that year on the Standardized Medical Entrance Exam in the United States. He probably did not have enough money to get through medical school but was awarded a full scholarship after receiving very high scores on the first round of tests in his classes. He again was awarded several patents on medical processes in his later years in medical school.
He left Philadelphia and went to Fort Worth to do his residency. Although he had several hospitals interested in him he moved to Breckenridge, Texas upon completion of his residency because it was a good place for hunting and fishing. He opened his own doctor's office, which he ran until around 1990. During this time, his interest in firearms led him to many of the gun shows they have in Texas. In the early 1970s, he saw his first Japanese swords at the gun shows and began developing an interest in them. He wanted to see what a fresh polished sword looked like, so he contacted John Yomoto to have one of his few swords polished. This began a long term teacher student relationship between the two. They had regular correspondence and sat together at sword shows viewing swords that people had questions about.
Dr. Ford was always a serious student and consumed any information he could get on Japanese swords. He twice went with John Yomoto on sword tours of Japan. At around 1990, due to the falling economy in Texas, Dr. Ford had to close his private practice, and went to work as a doctor for the State of Texas Prison System. Somewhere around this time he became the editor for the JSSUS News Letter. He held that position for several years, as well as being a director of the JSSUS. During all this time, Dr. Ford continued to study the sword, and later tsuba, and freely gave information to anyone who was studying swords.
After about 20 years with the prison system, he retired at the age of 89 and moved to Houston. While in Houston, he continued his sword study and started a Sword Study Group, which met monthly. This continued until his recent death, two weeks before his 95th birthday. Dr. Ford had an interesting life during an interesting time in the history of the United States. He remained a student all his life and cherished the relationships he had with many of the other sword students. He is survived by his wife, Dotti, his daughter, Linda Ford Murphy, and her two children Brian Girard and Stacy Morehead, a grandson, Chris Thompson of Edgewood, as well as step-daughter, Jan Anderson and her son Dana.
He will be greatly missed.