Jackson County

Rena Ford, grand matriarch of Pascagoula beach, dies at 102

Rena Ford
Rena Ford

PASCAGOULA -- Liz Ford said her mother, Rena Ford, lived a rich, full, long life.

Rena Murphy Ford died March 24 in her Pascagoula home. She was 102.

"She was a very strong woman," Liz Ford said. "She lived by herself until about a month ago."

Rena Ford was born July 5, 1913. For 96 years she lived on the same block on the beach in Pascagoula.

"Her parents bought a summer home on the beach when she was 6 and that's where she wanted to stay," Liz Ford said. "She loved the beach so much that she decided to rebuild her house after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it -- and she was in her 90s then."

Longtime family friend Judge Robert Krebs said she was a "fixture on the beach.

"She's been a strong presence in Pascagoula all of my life -- and I'm 67."

She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Roy L. Edwards, who was an attorney in Jackson County.

Liz Ford said her mother devoted her entire life to her family.

"She went to nursing school but she never nursed after she got married," she said. "She was a housewife and she raised five children of her own and basically several others, as well."

She is survived by her daughter Liz and four other children -- Nanny Ford, Jim Ford Jr., Ree Ford and Cap Ford.

"She was the center of the home," Krebs said. "When they created the word matriarch, they modeled it after Rena Ford. She was a grand lady; she was old school with a great sense of humor and a strong sense of family."

She also loved Jackson County, Liz Ford said.

"Mother loved Pascagoula," she said. "This is where she wanted be because she stayed here by choice."

Visitation for Rena Ford will be Thursday at St. John's Episcopal Church in Pascagoula at 2 p.m. Interment will follow in Krebs Cemetery.