James was born to Maxine (Riley) and Francis (Bud) Ford on May 23, 1944 and was raised on a farm near Bronaugh, Mo. He graduated from high school in l962. He received his BS degree in Agricultural Business from Central Missouri State University in 1966, where later in his career he was award the prestigious Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus. James went on to earn his Doctorate in Plant Genetics from the University of Missouri.
After post doctorate studies, James began his career as an agronomist in the field of plant research. In his last position, he worked as Director of International Business with DeKalb Genetics, which afforded him the opportunity to travel around the world with a fondness for Africa, China, Australia and Latin America. James always enjoyed and had a deep respect for the cultures and the people, whether walking on the Great Wall of China, viewing Victoria Falls, visiting the Barrier Reef or experiencing the wild game of Kenya.
In 1966 James married Karen Boatright of Bronaugh, Missouri. During their marriage they were fortunate to live in several locations where long-term friendships were made. For the past twelve years they have lived in Duncan, Oklahoma where they operated their real estate investment business. Jim enjoyed his transition from a suit and briefcase to jeans and a tape measure.
James is survived by his wife Karen; mother, Maxine Ford of Bronaugh, Mo.; brother, Stanley and wife Norma of Moundville, Mo.; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Joan and Augie Diehn, Wichita, Lois and Larry Harris of Duncan, Okla.; and his loved nieces and nephews, Antonette and Chris Bunch, Amy and Travis Searles, Amanda Ford, Bryan and Sharlie Harris, Michael and Jill Harris, Megan Harris which will serve as pallbearers.
Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, February 10, 2007 at the Worsley Cemetery near Bronaugh, Mo. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Cheney Witt Memorial Chapel. Memorials are suggested to either the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association the MD Anderson Medical Center or the charity of the donor's choice and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Memorial Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Fort Scott, KS 66701.