As news of the Rev. Thom Ford's untimely passing has spread through the LGBT community, several people have sent messages expressing sadness and memories:
—Father Tommy Avant Garde of the ball-culture family known as House of Avant Garde: 'Pastor Thom Ford was a great inspriation and motivating force in my early years of community service work. He took me on as a [ protege ] and helped me develop my strengths, be aware of my weaknesses and see my potential.
—Community activist Robert Castillo: 'Rev. Ford was a bright light in the city's LGBT community and will be missed. Our community has lost a much needed voice for inclusion of LGBTs in spritual life and a selfless volunteer.'
—Rev. Deborah Lake of Sankofa Way: 'I met Rev. Ford in 1999 or so during a conference in Chicago. I was facilitating a workshop that dealt with homophobia in Black churches, and Rev. Ford introduced himself to me. ... I will miss him. Our community will miss him.'
—Lora Branch of the Chicago Department of Public Health: 'Rev. Thom Ford was not only active in the Church of the Open Door ministries but also served as a tireless AIDS services advocate. ... Thom Ford was intelligent, insightful and filled with compassion. He greeted everyone with a warm embrace and a heartfelt 'How are you?' I will miss Thom very much and am deeply saddened by this tragic loss for our community.'
—Activist Renae Ogletree: 'The loss of Rev. Ford is great, in particular for the African-American LGBT community. ... He was always such a calming and thoughtful person, [ and ] even when I felt spiritually challenged by some of the politics of the church, Rev. Ford never changed. ... I will miss the energy and the spirit of community that he brought.'
Ford, a former pastor at the Church of the Open Door who often served as a sign-language interpreter at events, died of a heart attack on June 30.