William D. Ford, 77; Congressman Dedicated to Workplace Safety

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

William D. Ford, 77, a U.S. congressman from Michigan for 30 years who dedicated himself to workplace safety and expanding educational opportunities for children, died Saturday at his home in Ypsilanti Township, Mich., of complications from a stroke.

A House member from 1965 to 1995, representing Michigan’s 15th and 13th congressional districts, Ford served as chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor and as chairman of the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service.

He wrote the Middle Income Student Assistance Act and the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and orchestrated the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act. In 1994, the Federal District Student Loan Program was named for him.

Born in Detroit, Ford was the oldest child of immigrant Scottish parents and the first in his family to attend college. His father, an auto worker, was killed in a factory accident. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Ford earned his bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Denver.

He was a lawyer in private practice and a member of the Michigan state Senate before his election to Congress.


“He was a protector of working people,” former Rep. William L. Clay (D-Mo.) told the Washington Post. “He wouldn’t compromise on civil rights and on the rights of workers.”