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Pearlie Mae

Pearlie Mae Ford

Our Inspiration 

Pearlie Mae Ford was born on February 5, 1928 in Old Town, Florida, where she spent her childhood and early adulthood.  Wanting to provide a better life for her boys, she moved to Sanford, Florida in the early fifties.   In 1952, she met and married the love of her life, Clarence “Buddy” Ford.  Pearlie Mae was the mother of six children and several “adopted” children.  She was a mother to the motherless.  A faithful member of Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church for over sixty years, she served on the Stewardess Board for over fifty years.

Pearlie Mae wasn’t afraid of hard work.  Through the years she had an array of occupations.  Some of those jobs included working in the celery fields, doing domestic work, picking fruit, rising up early in the morning to run the Brown Derby Café, then leaving the café to get to her cooking job with Seminole County Schools and then back to the Brown Derby Café to cook and prepare for the evening customers.  She did all this with one goal in mind, a better life for her family.

Pearlie Mae and Buddy both believed in community service and giving back.  Even though she had six children and times were hard, she always had a desire to help others and be involved in the community.  Some of the organizations Pearlie Mae was involved in throughout the years included the Helpful Sisters, The Merry Twenties Club, Evergreen Temple No. 321 of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary, and Sweet Harmony Chapter No. 388 Order of Eastern Star.  She held several positions in those organizations.

Pearlie Mae was a great leader but also a great follower.  She understood you didn’t have to be up front to make a difference.  The one common thread that ran through all the organizations was the desire of each to make Sanford, FL a better place by helping the less fortunate and downtrodden members of the community.  Some activities included volunteering at the Good Samaritan Home, organizing picnics and bus tours, delivering Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas baskets, donating clothing and money, organizing Easter egg hunts for children, and many other activities that benefited the community.


Pearlie Mae was loved by the community, and always had an open door to her home for anyone wanting a delicious home-cooked meal.  She was a loving and giving person who would bake individual birthday cakes for the neighborhood kids, help financially with the less fortunate who had fallen on hard times, and would do anything for her family and friends.  Mrs. Pearlie Mae’s house is where you went when you needed that pep talk.  She believed in you even when you didn’t believe in yourself.

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