Ask anyone in Paducah how to spot Bill Ford and they will simply tell you to look for the gentleman in the bow tie! Known as a leading interior designer, artist for the past 25 years and dedicated member of the community, Bill Ford is transforming his love for bow ties into an incentive for giving back to local nonprofits through his annual Beaux Tie Day.
Everywhere he goes, someone comments about Bill’s bow tie. He wears a bow tie every day and has so many unique bow ties that he is uncertain about the exact number he owns. He has a bow tie handmade from Uganda, an American Flag bow tie and even a music note bow tie that he often wears to the Paducah Symphony. On the rare occasion that Bill chose not to wear his accessory, he was invited to a last minute dinner and decided not to tie his bow tie back on that he already retired for the day. The first question his friend asked when he arrived was, “Bill! Where is your bow tie?” Without a question, Bill has become iconic for his love of bow ties.
Browsing on Facebook one day, Bill noticed a trend. People were starting to dedicate their birthdays on Facebook to raise money for a nonprofit of their choice. This gave Bill an idea. He wanted to make the act of giving a community effort in Paducah and with that thought, he created the idea for an annual celebration that would encourage people to donate to a local nonprofit or two of their choice. Bill called it Beaux Tie Day.
While Beaux Tie Day was to be one day of the year dedicated to giving, Bill believes that giving should be an every day act of kindness. Over the years, Bill has found comfort within the community by volunteering and donating to local nonprofits. He decorates the Christmas trees and hangs decorations around the Merryman House every Christmas. This past Christmas, Bill partnered with meteorologist Beau Dodson to give his coloring books to children. Just recently, he donated an original portrait and prints he created of Rosa Parks to benefit the NAACP. Bill is always finding new ways to give to those in need through acts of kindness. He created beautiful illustrations to commemorate the lives lost in the Pittsburg synagogue and Charleston church shootings which he donated to each place of worship affected by the tragic events.
It’s the simple ways that Bill gives back to others that bring him the most joy and keeps him going strong at 81 years old. For instance, he takes a hand crafted “thank you” note to restaurants he frequents to show his appreciation for his meal. And of course, he weaved his love for bowties into an act of charity when he taught an aspiring politician how to tie a bowtie so he could wear one during his campaign season.
“My life motto is to believe in God, make people happy and to work. I believe that working is what keeps people going strong, myself included. I work every day of the week and love my work. I don’t believe that people should feel good all of the time. Sometimes , even I can feel low, but once I am surrounded by people and make an effort to visit with others daily, I don’t have time to think about myself. It’s about thinking about others and how you can help them, not yourself,” says Bill Ford.
Beaux Tie Day received an official proclamation from the Mayor of Paducah, Brandi Harless, in honor of the many contributions Bill Ford has made to the community. The proclamation declares for Beaux Tie Day to be celebrated every May 7 in Paducah and states, “Bill Ford’s contributions to local art and charity have been an example for so many and his leadership an example to follow.”
Bill envisions that his annual celebration will reach beyond Paducah and positively impact nonprofits across the U.S. “My dream is to help every nonprofit in America through Beaux Tie Day,” says. Bill. “My vision is that Beaux Tie Day begins in Paducah and spreads across the nation so our wonderful city makes a positive impact throughout every city in America.”
Beaux Tie Day is celebrated every May 7, Bill’s birthday, and is his way of turning his passion for bowties into an incentive for giving to others. Donations for Beaux Tie Day are made directly to the nonprofit of your choice. Bill does not collect funds but encourages people to reach out and let him know where they donated and to sport a bowtie day to their support. Bill recommends that people donate the amount of their age, but simply wants to encourage people to embrace the act of giving in our community through his annual celebration.