Etta Mae Ford was born 1924, in Giddings, Texas. As the only child, she was raised by her great-grandmother, Hattie Talley. While only nine months old, she suffered the loss of her Mother and Grandmother, within the same year. At the tender age of three years old, Etta had to work hard in the hot fields of Texas. As the years passed, she learned the importance of education and after her exhausting daily work; she concentrated on her academics, and excelled in her studies. Knowledge became power to her, and in the eighth grade, she was selected to teach the local children basic education skills. Additionally, she continued to focus on education of which advanced her to win the National Spelling Bee Contest, in her junior year of high school.
Soon after her academic accomplishment, she was forced to face life’s realities and return to the work. As she became older, her life would consist of marriage and fourteen children. She moved to Phoenix, Arizona seeking employment and a better life for her children. There, she continued to work hard and continued to promote education for her children. Unfortunately, she could not afford the expenses of school materials and was advised to relocate to Stockton, California. Etta arrived in Stockton, in 1964, with ten children, eight dollars and a truck load of Hope! She relocated to Stockton, seeking a quality education for her children.
Stockton (Southeast) remained her home until her death, 2008. Prior to her death, her health declined and she was restricted to her bed for over eleven years. During those taxing years, she continued to cling to her faith and the pursuit of transforming her beloved Southeast community. She never gave up! Being totally bedridden, she coordinated several activities and events, the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which fed over 800 Residents, the “Solid Foundation,” which assisted the homeless population with food and resources, women with children shelter, clothes, shoes & food, she raised money to collect school supplies for children and adult learners, she purchased appliances for her church, so that the church can be equipped to help those who were in need. Her favorite saying was, “That could be one of my children, and you have to help and give HOPE.” Through it all, Etta, continued to smile and be the example of having a GOLDEN HEART!
Today, the Dome of Hope stands as a recipient of her contributions and gives a Memorial Tribute to the life of Mrs. Etta Mae Ford, the “Root” and a true legend.