Olivia Betty (Curry) Ford

September 14, 1920 ~ September 9, 2018 (age 97)

Date:   Wednesday, September 19, 2018   

Visitation:  9:30 to Service time

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.: 10am Ivy Beyond the Wall Ceremony


Mrs. Olivia Betty Curry Ford, beloved daughter of the late Frank and Margree Curry, was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey on September 14, 1920. She was the second oldest of four sisters, the late Marietta Clark, the late Isabel Paul and the late Cardine Simms.

Throughout her life, she was active in the life of the church, serving where needed. As a teenager in Asbury Park, she played the piano for the local Methodist Church where she was a member. Until her move to Maryland, she was an active member of the St. Albans Congregational Church, in St. Albans, Queens, New York.

“Betty” as she loved to be called, matriculated through the Asbury Park, New Jersey Public School System. She was an exceptional student who received many honors and awards for her academic accomplishments.  Upon graduation from high school, Betty attended Fisk University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1942 (Magna Cum Laude) majoring in Sociology and a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology in 1944.  She was always a very serious student, but enjoyed having fun with her classmates, particularly her roommate, Mildred Steele Robinson who was her childhood friend from Asbury Park.


In 1939, while at Fisk, Betty joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) Pi Chapter. On June 13, 2014, Betty was recognized as a “Seventy-Five Dear Member” – a “Diamond Soror” of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. In 1942, she became a member of the Society of Sigma Upsilon Pi, an honor society.  In her later years, Betty experienced dementia, but never forgot that she was an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman and a proud graduate of Fisk University.


While at Fisk University, she met and fell in love with the late Carlton Eric Ford, a medical student at Meharry Medical College. They were united in Holy Matrimony in New York and were blessed with two beautiful daughters, Leslie and Andrea (“Bunny”).


After her graduation from Fisk, Betty went to New York and began her career as a Medical Social Worker at Kings County Hospital and Harlem Hospital.  In an effort to spend more time with her children, she made a career change and became a Social Studies Teacher in the New York City Public Schools, retiring after 25 years of service. Betty was the first teacher in Queens, New York to teach African-American History to her students, believing it was essential that her students learn the history of their people.


Betty loved to spend time with her family. When her grandchildren were young, she would often drive to Maryland or fly to California, just to spend quality time with them, even babysitting while their parents went on vacation. They spent time gardening with her, watching her quilt, and went on many outings to places of interest. She was a tough disciplinarian with her children, grandchildren, and her students, but she was also lots of fun, loving and kind.


Betty’s passions were travelling, quilting and helping others. Her travels took her to Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Seychelles, Trinidad, Barbados, Cuba, Brazil, France, Germany, China and Curacao, just to name a few.  Betty was fearless and had an  adventurous spirit! In her senior years she went zip lining in Costa Rica; participated in several marathon races and could be seen on a ski slope or two. In every place she traveled, she immersed herself in the culture and shared her experiences with her students, family and friends. 


Betty excelled as a quilter.  She was a member of several quilting guilds and looked forward to monthly meetings where she would join with fellow quilters and learn the latest quilting techniques and share their most recent works of art.  Betty’s beautiful quilts were exhibited locally and nationally and received numerous awards.     


Betty’s life truly embodied the song, If I Can Help Somebody” and Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mission of “Service to All Mankind” because she was always helping someone. Well into her late 80’s, she would prepare and deliver food to the sick and drive individuals in need of transportation to appointments.


Early in the morning on September 9, 2018 Betty peacefully transitioned when the Lord called her home. Praise God she leaves a strong legacy of faith, love, strength, courage and service. She is survived by: her daughters, Leslie E. Johnson (Jack B. Johnson) of Mitchellville, Maryland and Andrea “Bunny” Ford Roberts of Landover, Maryland; grandchildren, Nia Johnson Jones (Thomas Jones), Jack B. Johnson, Jr., Zachary C. Johnson (Krystina Johnson), and Aja M. Washington (Blair Washington); great-grandchildren, Christian Jackson Jones, Aubri Olivia Jones, Charlotte Washington and another great granddaughter on the way; a niece, Patricia Simms; a grand-niece, Margree Simms; a niece, Deborah Paul Evans; a nephew, Steve Smith; a dear friend for over 75 years, Marguerite Cordice; a former neighbor and friend, Josephine Brissett and friends at the Harbor Park Estates Assisted Living Facility.


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