John Allen Ford Sr., 71, of Brooks, died Nov. 17, 2018, after a courageous battle with his fifth bout of cancer. He was born June 17, 1947, in Sanford to Ethelind Lena (Muchmore) and Velmore Ford.

In 1966, the then-shy graduate of Sanford High School joined the Air Force to see the world; and he was promptly stationed as a radar specialist in Maine for four years.

In 1970, John fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming a game warden. He had been inspired to enter law enforcement by his grandfather Leland Ford, a Maine State trooper; his father Velmore, a part-time deputy with the York County Sheriff’s Office; his stepfather Vernon Walker, a game warden; and his mother Ethelind, who rehabilitated animals for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Based in Waldo County for 20 years, John matched wits (and sometimes won) with poachers, many of whom became friends.

He married Judy Morang, the love of his life, after being set up on a blind dinner date by mutual friends Harry and Sandra Bailey. Together, John and Judy raised their cherished son, John Jr.

They also raised owls Who-Hoo and Boo-Hoo, Wile E. Coyote, Bucky the deer and numerous other critters John brought home to nurse. Judy, however, objected to a blue heron she found one day in the bathtub.

During his two decades as a warden, John followed his stepfather’s advice and kept a diary of his escapades, including when he tracked and helped capture two dangerous escaped convicts on Moody Mountain.

He also detailed his hysterical misadventures, including falling off a plane pontoon into Unity Pond and trying to dislodge a beaver dam with dynamite and instead knocking out power to the town of Troy.

When John — who had impeccable comedic timing and a quick wit — retired from the Warden Service, he was twice elected sheriff of Waldo County, serving from 1991 to 1999.

He returned later as chief deputy for Sheriff Scott Story. When John again retired, he began sharing his stories in a column for The Republican Journal, then VillageSoup, and Northwoods Sporting Journal. His column won first place in the Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

John, who also was a talented artist and creator of wildlife calendars and cards, went on to write three popular books (a fourth soon will be published) and he was a sought-after speaker throughout Maine.

Until his latest illness, John was a civil process deputy — he served papers — for the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office.

John, who was a Mason and belonged to the American Legion, was predeceased by his parents; stepfather Vernon; brother Gerrald; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Roland and Virginia Morang of Belmont.

He is survived by Judy, his loving and patient wife of 46 years, of Brooks; his son John Jr., of Newburgh; his beloved grandchildren Lucas, Elizabeth and Anna, of Unity; niece Sherry Elwell and husband John, of Sanford; and nephew James Morang of Phoenix, Ariz.; cousin Carol Twombley and husband Donald, of Sanford; brothers-in-law Roland Morang and wife Jean of New Portland and Stephen Morang of Belmont; and thousands of friends, including his partner-in-crime Mark Nickerson, a retired trooper and book tour companion.

Visiting hours will be held Friday, Nov. 23, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Riposta Funeral Home, 182 Waldo Ave., Belfast. A celebration of John’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, in Tozier Gymnasium at Unity College. His first night as a warden John stayed in Wood Hall at the college, and he later taught there. Maine Game Warden Chaplain Kate Braestrup will officiate. John will be buried in Kinney Cemetery in Brooks.

For those who wish to honor John — who was named a legendary warden in 2000 and an honorary trooper in 1984 — donations are invited to the Maine Game Warden Foundation, ℅ Mike Pratt, 225 Center Hill Road, Weld, ME 04285; and the Maine State Troopers Foundation, 28 Meadow Road, Augusta, ME 04330. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at ripostafh.com.