Cover photo for Cathy Joan Ford's Obituary
Cathy Joan Ford Profile Photo
Cathy Joan Ford

Cathy Joan Ford

d. July 15, 2023

Apple Valley

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Cathy Joan Ford, of Apple Valley, on July 15,
2023 at the age of 78. Cathy was a loving daughter, mother, grandmother (“Nana”) and great-
grandmother. She was born May 9, 1945, and grew up in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Cathy was
a daughter to Vernon and Jessie Schmidt, and a sister to Jeannette and Vernon John. She had
three children: Cathy Jo (her namesake), Bobbie Jo, and Jason who all had children of their
own, all of whom she loved dearly.

The world will miss her beautiful smile, sparkling eyes, infectious giggling laughter, and her
dramatic and colorful personality. She had a sassy sense of humor, and loved making her family
laugh. She was an artist in every medium; whether through her own voice, the piano, or pencil
and paper. She noticed beauty in the world and channeled her creativity in so many ways. She
wore vibrant, colorful clothes and she painted the interior of her house a deep pink with red
carpeting. She could hear a song and compose the music from memory, and she loved oil
painting and sketching. She shared her passion for music with her sister, Jeannette, who she
was close with her entire life. She loved spending time with her family, whether it was visiting on
the phone or having a pizza party with her grandchildren. She provided in-home daycare for her
grandchildren when they were young. As they grew up, she never missed a single choir concert
or musical performance. She showed no mercy when coaching them for vocal auditions and
concerts. She had a powerful soprano voice and taught her grandchildren not to be afraid of
their own power; to enunciate lyrics and belt out the high notes. She loved giving gifts and
always spent more than she should at Christmas time. One year, she made homemade
dollhouses for her grandchildren out of boxes, popsicle sticks, and art supplies, which took her
weeks to finish. She had a huge heart for animals and loved them like family. She could often
be found sneakily saving up money to send to her granddaughters to help them pay vet bills for
their rescue dogs. She loved her “kitty” Kiki, who she had for 18 years, and who she used to
bring to see her mother in the nursing home.

Everyone who met Nana remembered her warmth and empathetic nature. Despite many
hardships, she never let her spirit grow hard. She loved all who got to know her with incredible
generosity and open arms. She was always asking how people were doing, worrying about
their family members, roommates, pets, health, and asking how work or school was going. If
you were struggling, sick, or stressed Nana would try to do something to help. She sent colorful
cards and called her family on the phone often. She was extremely progressive and had such a
strong conviction to help disadvantaged and discriminated people and animals; the poor, the
sick, the hurting. She kept up with politics, watching the news religiously, and voted in every
election. She loved people in a selfless way that not many can emulate, even if she herself was
going through pain or challenges. Nana brightened everyone’s world and made every person
she encountered feel special and seen.

The love she put out into the world was tremendous and she truly left the world a better place. It
has been so heartbreaking to have to say goodbye so suddenly, but we are so blessed to have
a Nana, Momma, and sister we will miss so much.

She is survived by sister, Jeannette Anne Harrington; children, Cathy (Terry) Swanson, Bobbie Jo
Knutson, Jason Jacobs, daughter-in-law Ellen Jacobs; grandchildren, Jessica, Cassie, Angelina, Blake,
Connerv (Kayla), Indie, Khaya, and Noah ; great-grandchildren, Cloe, Claire, Cara, ; and her loving
companion kitty, Kiki. 

She is preceded in death by parents, Vernon and Jessie Schmidt; and brother, Vernon John Schmidt.

Visitation with memorial service following on Friday, August 11th at 11:30 at St Andrew’s Lutheran
Church in Mahtomedi. Lunch to follow.

Committal service Saturday morning 10:30am on August 12 at Redwood Falls Cemetery.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Cathy Joan Ford, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, August 11, 2023

11:30am - 12:30 pm (Central time)

Saint Andrews Lutheran Church (Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi)


Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Friday, August 11, 2023

12:30 - 1:30 pm (Central time)

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church

900 Stillwater Rd, Mahtomedi, MN 55115

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, August 12, 2023

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 249

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree