NAUGATUCK — Ever since John Ford was a young boy, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
“I wanted to be a funeral director since eighth grade,” Ford said.
Over the past 44 years, the 66-year-old lifelong Naugatuck resident has followed his calling. Beginning as an apprentice at the former C. H. Green Funeral Home in 1968, Ford worked his way up to become the owner and president of Alderson Slater Mulville Funeral Homes, Inc., with funeral homes in Naugatuck, Waterbury, and Cheshire.
Late last year, Ford received national affirmation of his more than four decades of funeral service when he was named runner-up for the Funeral Director of the Year Award by American Funeral Director magazine.
“It’s quite a culmination of my career to be honored, even as a runner-up,” Ford said. “I feel like I’ve come completely around.”
The recognition came as a surprise to Ford, who was nominated for the award by his son Dan Ford, a retired firefighter who is now executive vice president of Alderson Slater Mulville Funeral Homes. Dan Ford had plenty of support in nominating his father for the award.
“John Ford is the epitome of the professional funeral service practitioner. He has held many leadership positions within the funeral service community. Yet he is one of the most unassuming people I have ever met. He and his family are faithful and generous supporters of the New England Institute and Mount Ida College; but John has never sought accolades. He simply does the right thing for the right reason,” wrote Jacquelyn Taylor, executive director of the New England Institute, in a letter recommending Ford for the award.
Dan Ford said it means a lot to him to see his father earn this national recognition, and that it shows his father has come “full circle.”
Ford’s father died when he was 12 years old. It was at this impressionable age when Ford said he became fascinated with funeral service. Six years later, Ford’s mother died of cancer when he was senior in high school.
“Most would say he didn’t have a positive start. But my father made the best of a terrible situation,” Dan Ford wrote in his nominating letter.
After high school, Ford attended the New England Institute of Funeral Service in Boston and graduated in 1968. When he returned home, he took the apprenticeship with the former C. H. Green Funeral Home. Two years later, he became associated with the Alderson Funeral Homes, Inc. where he finished his apprenticeship and was named manager of the company’s Naugatuck funeral home.
Ford’s career ascension continued in 1983, when he became a partner in the funeral home and in 2007 he became the sole owner of the business.
For Ford, funeral service has been the driving force in his life because of the support and assistance he is able to provide to families during an extremely stressful and emotional time.
“The rewarding part of my career has been meeting and becoming close friends with a lot of people I have served as a professional,” Ford said.
The service aspect of Ford’s life extends beyond the funeral home. Ford has been heavily involved in the community throughout the years, including serving on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls’ Board of Directors and volunteering with the Peter J. Foley Little League.
“It’s important to be involved and give back,” Ford said.
Reflecting on his career, Ford said he wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else and credited his success to putting in “110 percent.” Even at the age of 66, Ford remains involved — although he has admittedly slowed down some. Ford said he’s able to take it a little easier now because he has a great staff he can depend on, which includes his wife Maureen and daughter Joanna Seggetti, who have their roles in the business.
However, Ford added, “I’m only a cell phone away from being summoned if I need be.”