METHUEN — Ronald F. Ford, known for his involvement in local politics and as a radio talkmaster and political mentor, died yesterday one week after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
He was a member of the Town Council (now a city council) for 20 years and also served on the Essex County Advisory Board, the Methuen School Committee and the Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee.
In early 2001, he revived the popular “Hotline” talk show on Radio 800 WCCM, which had gone off the air in late 2000 after a run of more than 20 years.
The show tackled local issues, mostly political and often controversial.
In addition to being a politician, Ford, affectionately known as “Ronnie” and “Fordie” was known for his kindness toward others and his willingness to help people who needed a job or housing.
“He was a doer and a giver,” said Bob Sheehan, who knew Ford all of his life.
“He lectured me at 10 and 48 years old. He had a lot of common sense. He told me, in politics always return your phone calls, even if you don’t want to hear what they have to say,” recalled Sheehan, owner of Sheehan’s Towing where Ford would often stop to talk.
Born in Lawrence, Ford graduated from Central Catholic High School. He attended Merrimack College before transferring to Boston College. He entered the Army in 1954 and served in Korea.
He began his political career in 1974 when he was elected a Councilor-at-large in Methuen, where he served for six terms. Over the years, he was also a Town Meeting member, a member of the Methuen School Committee, a deputy sheriff for Lawrence and Methuen and a constable in both towns. He was also a former Methuen police officer and was an unsuccessful candidate for state senator.
While he was out serving the community, his son Mike said his father was also very involved in the lives of his six children.