Helen M. Ford, program planner

November 15, 2005

Helen M. Ford, a retired program planner who witnessed the Japanese surrender during World War II, died of multiple myeloma Friday at her Hillsmere Shores home near Annapolis. She was 83.

She was born and raised Helen Mary Puetz in Chicago and worked before the war as an administrative assistant at the University of Chicago.

During World War II, she joined the Navy WAVES - Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service - and served as a first-class intelligence specialist in Washington and Hawaii.

On Sept. 12, 1945, Mrs. Ford was aboard the battleship USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay, to attend the ceremonies marking the end of World War II.

"She had been recruited to attend the surrender ceremony by special invitation. She was something of a shy person and never mentioned it to anyone but me," said her husband of 59 years, John C. Ford Jr., who retired from the National Security Agency.

For 12 years until retiring in 1975, Mrs. Ford worked as a program planner at the Naval Ship and Development Center, now known as the David Taylor Research Center, in Annapolis.

Mrs. Ford earned an associate's degree from Anne Arundel Community College in 1994.

An avid birdwatcher, Mrs. Ford was secretary during the 1970s and 1980s of the Maryland Ornithological Society and was a past president of the Anne Arundel County Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society. She also was an active member of the Navy Wives Club.

She enjoyed attending performances of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, reading and working New York Times crossword puzzles.

Mrs. Ford had been a communicant of St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Andrew by the Bay Roman Catholic Church, 701 College Parkway, Cape St. Claire.

Also surviving are three sons, John C. Ford III of Boca Raton, Fla., Christopher J. Ford and Jeffrey P. Ford, both of Annapolis; three daughters, Mary Ford Laird of Baltimore, Anne C. Ford of Marina del Ray, Calif., and Julie C. Ford of Hollywood, Calif.; a sister, Mary Pitts of Syracuse, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren.

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