Columns / Discourse / February 17, 2016

Thoughts from the embers: Stephen Ford: Gone but never forgotten

Alumni, friend, student, and world traveler Stephen Ford plays trumpet a couple of Flunk Days ago. Junior Lucy Rae Dorn painted him with acrylic. (Lucy Rae Dorn/TKS)

“The Little Prince,” a novella written by Antoine de Saint Éxupery, is a tale of a strange little prince who lands on Earth and encounters a young human. Stranded in the desert, the little prince describes to his new friend the characters he has met throughout his life: a vain little rose, a drunk who forgets why he drinks, a clever fox. The story ends with the little prince’s departure from this world, presumably on to bigger and more colorful adventures.

As the narrator asks his readers to kindly notify him if they ever encounter the little prince, we are reminded of the presence that we, too, have lost here on campus.

Stephen Ford was more than a person we know about through social media. The space he occupied on campus overlapped that of so many others and footprints of his time at Knox haven’t faded away. A former writer for The Knox Student, proof of his time here is marked in the issues in our archives. But he’s left his mark on almost every other person he knew and extracurricular he did at Knox. He was a maverick who got his feet wet in almost everything, driven by curiosity and vibrancy. He was a true liberal arts student — the kind we all aspire to be. Friends will tell you he put his relationships first. Even people who knew him peripherally or briefly — people who only took one or two classes with him — felt a deep connection, and have some anecdote that seems to embody Stephen’s spirit. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him.

His enthusiasm for the Chinese culture and language touched each of us — whether we heard him brushing up on his vocabulary in Mandarin or talking about his experiences with street food while abroad, his passion to learn more resStephen onates in all of us.

Stephen came to us like the little prince: curious, open-minded and always looking beyond the surface. He accepted everyone for who they were and saw the good in everything. Stephen was the embodiment of what liberal arts students look for. His friendliness and understanding made every space a safe one. We’re reminded of what it means to be a liberal arts student — quirky, a free thinker and a person who doesn’t judge others. Stephen’s presence on campus taught us to appreciate everyone and encourage peers to follow their dreams. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone like that.

TKS Editorial Board

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