“Dr. Nathan Ford Highway”
The man who helped so many in Cocke County see better over the years for got to see something special himself on Monday. At 9am Monday morning July 11th, friends family and dignitaries gathered at the intersection of US321 and State Highway 160 to unveil a sign proclaiming USS 321 between Newport and Parrottsville as the “Dr. Nathan Ford Highway”. A Del Rio native, Nathan Ford opened the first full time optometry practice in Cocke County back in the fall of 1950. That practice is now known as “Vision Source” as Dr. Ford sold his practice to Dr. Kurt Steele back in 1995.
Dr. Steele was on hand to pay tribute to his mentor and stated he hoped to make it in the practice till 2050 to celebrate 100 years. State Representative Jeremy Faison was on hand to handle the ceremonies. Faison called Dr. Ford a “beautiful human” He quoted the bible saying “a man who hears the Lord, even his enemies will have peace with him”. Faison went on to note how he could not find anyone who would say a cross word about Dr. Nathan Ford.
Also, there for the festivities was former state speaker of the house and former US Representative William L. “Bill” Jenkins from Hawkins County. Mr. Jenkins stated he was planning to use the Nathan Ford Highway from now on when he came to Newport, but he expressed concern stating “I’m afraid when that sign goes up and his name is on it, he’s gonna try to place a dadblame toll charge on it!”.
Among the others on hand was his long time friend Ben Hooper and his daughter. Dr. Ford was humbled by all the attention but was honored to have that busy stretch of highway in Cocke County named after him. Besides his optometry practice, Dr. Ford was the state representative for this district from 1977-1988. Those who travel from Newport to Parrottsville will now be reminded of Dr. Nathan Ford as they will now be traveling on his highway.