Cornelia Porter Ford ’53

Cornelia (Nina) Porter Ford of Stamford, CT, beloved wife of the late Thomas R. Ford, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at her home in Stamford. She was born in Tucson, AZ, to Rutger and Bernice (Walkley) Porter, who operated a nursery and landscaping business on land that is now the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Thus began Nina’s lifelong passion for horticulture, botany, and conservationism. After her graduation from Vassar College in 1957, she and Tom settled in West Hartford, CT, where they raised four children over many happy decades. There, Nina cultivated verdant gardens filled with diverse flowers, herbs, vegetables, and shrubs. The family spent every summer in Center Sandwich, NH, in a setting little changed by modern times. She had a love of music and encouraged it in her children. At the piano she led sing-alongs with family and guests, especially at Christmastime. In the 1970s she played banjo and sang in a folk group. Later she played electric piano in a cover band of popular music. In 1976 she bought Herbs and Whey, a natural-foods store in Avon, CT, of which she was the proprietor for four years. In 1983, She joined the Connecticut Unit of the Herb Society of America, serving as Vice-Chairman in 1989. In 1987, she graduated from Central Connecticut State College with a master’s degree in biology. In 1990, Bat Conservation International received Nina’s permission to publish her teaching unit “A Year in the Life of the Little Brown Bat” in an Educators Activity Book. Nina was a quiet feminist and a life-long spiritual seeker. During 1996-97, she was a student in the inaugural class of the Women’s Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary. After the passing of her husband, Nina moved to southern Connecticut to be closer to those children and grandchildren living on the East Coast. Throughout her life, Nina sought personal connection with everyone she encountered, always asking their name and taking genuine interest in their lives. Strangers were simply friends she hadn’t met yet. Nina is survived by her loving family; her children, Becky and Nick Lai of Stamford, CT, Dan and Mary Ford of Ridgefield, CT, Ted Ford and Anne Fitzgerald of Seattle, WA, and Andrew and Molly Ford of Seattle, WA; grandchildren, Sarah Ford, Roxanne and Sophie Lai, and Audrey and George Ford; brother-in-law, Richard Hill of Tucson, AZ; sister- and brother-in-law, Mimi and Christopher Stahler of Wenatchee, WA; sister-in-law, Eli Ford of Cape Cod, MA; and several nieces, nephews, cousins as well as an abundance of loving friends. Contributions in Cornelia’s memory may be made to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Bat Conservation International, or The Miriam Therese Winter Chair in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at The Hartford Seminary.

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