Harold E. Ford, U.S. congressman, was born May 20, 1945, in Memphis, the son of Vera Davis Ford and Newton Jackson Ford. He received his A.A. degree from John Gupton College, a B.S. degree from Tennessee State, and his M.B.A. from Howard University. Ford became vice-president of Ford & Sons Funeral Homes in 1969 and has remained involved in the family business. Ford served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1970 to 1975.
In 1974 Ford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served until 1996, when he was succeeded by his son, Harold E. Ford Jr. In Congress, Ford served on numerous committees and was chair of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Public Assistance and Unemployment. During Ronald Reagan's presidency, Ford consistently opposed Reagan's attempts to dismantle social welfare programs. He strongly advocated welfare reform, job training and assistance, and forcing deadbeat parents to pay child support. Within the Ninth District, Ford perhaps was best known for his constituent services on a wide range of issues. Former aides remember that he often admonished them not to forget that his votes came from the Ninth District, not Washington.