William P. Ford, 72, died of esophageal cancer June 1 in his home in Montclair, New Jersey. He was a former Wall Street attorney who became an influential activist and leading advocate for justice in El Salvador after his sister Ita Ford and three more women, including two other Maryknoll sisters and a missionary, were murdered in Dec. 1980 during the civil war in El Salvador. In a 2002 civil trial in Florida, the federal court jury found Jos Guillermo Garca, El Salvador's past defense minister, and Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, its past National Guard commander, liable for $54.6 million of injuries due to pain and suffering undergone by three Salvadoran immigrants to America who the two military officials had ordered to be tortured. While the verdict was not expressly tied to the murders of Ita Ford and the other churchwomen, it was clear that William Ford's perseverance in the case was directly linked to the conviction. At the time of the trial, the two generals were living in Florida under U.S. permission.
Ford is survived by his wife, the former Mary Anne Heyman, to whom he had been married for 47 years, two sons, William Ford III and John, four daughters, Miriam, Ruth, Elizabeth, and Rebecca, a sister, and eight grandchildren.
Ford's daughter Ruth is now the director of the Maura Clarke - Ita Ford (MCIF) Center in Brooklyn, NY, named for Ford's sister and another of the women murdered. The organization seeks to assist immigrant women in learning English, discovering ways to support their families, and participating actively in their community.