by Andy Pouncey, March 16, 2006
One of my favorite people in Germantown’s history is the late Hugh Ford. Hugh, at the young age of 34, was appointed City Clerk/Manager in February 1954, replacing the first manager, C.C. Burford. Hugh, originally from Middleton, Tennessee, worked in Memphis for Chicago Southern Airlines. Following the merger of Chicago Southern and Delta, and Delta’s move to Atlanta, Hugh and his wife Billie chose to stay in Germantown. The Germantown census was fast approaching a total of 900 citizens.
Hugh received legal advice from City Attorney Bruce Law who was given a credit of $1.50 per month on his water bill in exchange for his services. Garbage collection in 1954 only took a half-day.
Hugh’s office and his family’s apartment were in the same building. The apartment was sandwiched between the Fire Station and the old City Hall (current offices of the Park & Recreation Department). At first blush, this appears to qualify as the City’s first home-based business. The public was Hugh’s business. Hugh drove the fire engine, ran the water department, and maintained the streets. His wife Billie assisted by answering the phone and collecting money from customers paying their water bills, even up until 9 p.m.
I asked Hugh, “how did you ever separate your work life from your personal life?” He stated that “it was hard. I just opened this door and I would be in my office, and then I would open this door and I would be back at home”. You guessed it; it was the same door. He said that after three or four years “I was about to go nuts.” As a result, he moved back into the house that he and his wife built on Germantown Road in 1947.
By 1972, the community had grown to approximately 5,000 citizens, and excessive demands were being placed on Hugh’s time. A resolution in 1973 created the city departments we have today and Hugh was appointed Public Works Director in charge of the water, sewer, streets, public grounds, and health and sanitation departments. But who knew them better than Hugh? Upon Hugh’s retirement in 1982, the new public services complex was named the Hugh S. Ford Public Services Complex.