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Georgia Roots Lead to Emory College Scholarship Gift

Natalie Ford

Natalie Ford is honoring her mother Myra Ford's sacrifices

Natalie Ford's planned gift to Emory is rooted in the red clay of middle Georgia, where her mother, Myra B. Ford was born in Thomaston, about 70 miles south of Emory.

"To her, Georgia was the best place on earth," says Natalie, who lives in Chicago. "My mother was 18 when she left Georgia to attend college in Chicago. There, she met and married a friend of her brother's, and stayed in Chicago and raised their 10 children. To honor her, I reached out to colleges in Georgia to set up a scholarship, and Emory responded with tremendous advice and support."

A few months after that initial contact, Myra suffered a heart attack and pneumonia. "People from Emory came by to see her in Chicago," Natalie recalls. "Later when we toured Emory, everyone was so nice. All of this helped me see that this would be a good place for her scholarship."

Natalie's vision for a memorial scholarship was well-timed. A generous donor has provided a match on an escalating scale for gifts of $50,000 or more to endowed scholarships at Emory College.

Natalie established the Myra B. Ford Endowed Scholarship from funds she inherited from her mother and other family members, personal savings and monetary gifts from family. Through the matching funds, the scholarship endowment will triple. Natalie's planned gift will increase the scholarship endowment and provide more funding for future Emory College students.

"I want her legacy for good to cascade down like rain for generations," Natalie says. "That is why establishing the Myra B. Ford Endowed Scholarship was so important. Her kindness, humility and compassion left an indelible imprint on my heart, and the scholarship will allow her commitment to helping others live on in perpetuity."

In 2019, the Fords will celebrate the centennial of Myra's birth in Thomaston and her legacy at Emory.

"From her I saw how a mother will fight and sacrifice for her family," Natalie Ford says. "She was so protective of my sister with Down syndrome, and she treated all kids that way; she even took care of kids for parents who never paid her. If another lady had car trouble, our mother would give her the car fare to get to work. Every day we had fresh vegetables, home-cooked meals and a special snack. I watched her give, and try to live by her example."

Natalie also established the Brenda D. Ford Brain Health Discovery Fund to honor her late sister, a retired schoolteacher with a master's degree in education. She suffered from a benign brain tumor and lengthy history of epileptic seizures.

"Nothing can bring back my sister, but through research, someone will find a cure for epilepsy," Natalie says. "I don't want to see anyone suffer and that's why I want to invest in research and education as a legacy."

Natalie herself benefited from scholarships at the University of Illinois, and donor support enabled her to attend Harvard University for a semester.

"Our dad worked construction and I would have had a lot of college debt without someone thinking of setting aside money for students like me," she says. "I believe we owe those who are coming behind us. There is a joy that you can't buy that comes from helping someone in need."

Making your legacy gift to Emory is easier than you think. Contact the team of professionals at Emory's Office of Gift Planning at 404.727.8875 or For online resources, go to

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