In four days, the Neosho Daily News will return to local ownership and while I never had the opportunity to talk to John Ford about it, I know it must have been pleased him greatly to see the newspaper he served for 20 years rescued from the vultures who owned it.
Sadly, that milestone for the Neosho community will arrive and John won't be here to celebrate it. Lee Ann Murphy, a former NDN reporter and editor, noted John's passing a few minutes ago on her Facebook page.
John, in addition to creating a fresh, attractive layout for the Daily everyday graced the newspaper with an elegant writing style that he used in his weekly columns and the many features he wrote over the years.
John, who graduated from Parkwood High School and was one of many local journalists to come through Missouri Southern's Chart, had a genuine love and understanding of small town journalism, something former Daily News Publisher Rick Rogers, also a Chart alumnus, noted when he promoted John to managing editor in 2007:I have the utmost confidence that John can continue the excellent editorial product that we have been able to produce the past three years. John is one of the finest reporters in this region and that, coupled with his ability to produce a well-designed newspaper, will allow him to excel in his new role.
"John has also been a part of the Neosho community for the past 12 years, and understands what you, our readers, want in their hometown newspaper - hometown news."
Becky Moyer, who lost her brother, Nathan Fisher, in the fire, credited the actions of caretaker Glenn Taff for saving several lives that night. Taff, 19, also died in the blaze while attempting to get residents out of the burning building. His wife, Amanda, 18, remains in a Springfield hospital with severe burns.
"I just want to get the message to Mr. Taff's family that he was a hero," she said.