Fred J. Ford Is a Best Friend to Scholarship Hopefuls at Sigma Chi

Sigma Chi Alumni stand in front of commercial jet and at right a close up of Fred J. Ford the dog
For Bill Kingsley, this photo, at left, of Sigma Chi members standing on the wing of a National Airlines 727 is iconic. “Kids that served in Vietnam were not scared of a lot. They just walked up to the CEO of a major airline and asked to borrow an airplane for 30 minutes to take a picture.” At right: Fred J. Ford lived at the fraternity house of Sigma Chi, Eta Iota Chapter, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Fred’s roommate, Bill Kingsley, named a new scholarship for fraternity members after the shepherd mix.

Many members of the Eta Iota Chapter of Sigma Chi have distinguished themselves since the fraternity was established on Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus in 1972.

One of the chapter’s best-loved members was the first dog enrolled at Embry-Riddle.

Fred J. Ford came close to completing a semester as a registered student, with a little assistance from fraternity brothers who took exams in his place, according to Bill Kingsley (’84, ’88).

“Fred made it through November as a student. Things were a little looser then,” remembers Kingsley, who earned his B.S. in Aeronautical Science and M.S. in Aeronautical Science. He also earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Today, he is an account executive at AssuredPartners Aerospace LLC, his employer for 20 years. He is also still active in Sigma Chi.

“I’ve seen so many dreams come true that started at 520 South — mine included,” Kingsley says of the Sigma Chi house on 520 South Ridgewood Ave.

Fred is a namesake for two founding fraternity members, Morris Ford and Art Jacobs (’74), the “J” in Fred J. Ford. Their reputations loomed large in an era of students who came not directly from high school, but from Vietnam. “Art showed up as a freshman with 2,800 combat hours,” Kingsley says.

The dog belonged to Ford but became a permanent resident of the fraternity house in the 1970s. Kingsley took on the title and responsibilities as Feeder of the Fred. As arthritis set in for the aging shepherd mix, Fred became his roommate, though Fred had the run of the house.

Fred still has a presence at the fraternity house. He is buried under the front steps with a small monument. And now, thanks to Bill Kingsley, his name lives on in a scholarship for his future Sigma Chi brothers.

“Our Thing” — The Fred J. Ford Endowed Scholarship

The Fred J. Ford Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate, full-time students with financial need enrolled at the Daytona Beach Campus. They must be fraternity members in good standing and U.S. citizens with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Scholarships may go to the same student in successive years if the student maintains eligibility. There is a preference for underrepresented students or those with military affiliation.

Kingsley named the scholarship for their canine brother because he knew his Sigma Chi brothers would recognize “Fred J. Ford” as a sort of code word. He hopes they will continue to build on his gift.

“My ego didn’t demand I put my name on it. I can give a little, but I want it to have real impact. The name makes it our thing, so I hope together we can make it a bigger scholarship over time.”

Kingsley chose to establish the scholarship for his fraternity out of deep respect for the people he remembers and those who are still part of his life.

“I wanted to help Sigma Chi,” he says. “The guy sitting two offices down from me is a Sigma Chi from Embry-Riddle. I’ve hired Sigma Chis from Embry-Riddle, and I deal with other Sigma Chis from Embry-Riddle on a daily basis in my industry and in my job.”

“Embry-Riddle Is that House”

“I was a member of Sigma Chi, and my day job was taking classes at Embry-Riddle,” Kingsley says. “That’s how I felt. It was a very different place in the 1980s. When I took the campus tour, my mother sat in the back of our van crying. Thirty years later, she was calling me to help get her grandson, my nephew, into Embry-Riddle. He graduated last year.”

Kingsley was in residence at 520 South Ridgewood Ave. twice, as an undergraduate and then, returning to his old room, as a graduate student. “To me, Embry-Riddle is that house.”

His first fraternity party made a big impression. “I thought, this is the greatest place I’ve ever been. I want to stay for the rest of my life. At 18, still trying to figure out what crowd I should run with, moving in there with so many great guys was like Shangri-La. To this day, ask me where home is, and I’ll tell you ‘520 South.’”

He’s not alone in keeping the connection alive. More than 200 attended the 50th anniversary celebrations of the chapter last year. “That was one of the greatest weeks of my life, seeing everyone and remembering the craziness that can’t be replicated anywhere else.”

Kingsley has discovered that the chapter has a national reputation. “Daytona is unique. There is no other chapter like it in the U.S., and I’m proud we can help some other students attend Embry-Riddle as Sigma Chis.”

He has seen the campus and the university improve dramatically, from better facilities, more events and wider course offerings to the inclusion of more female students. He sees current students as more sober than his old fraternity brothers but acknowledges the earliest chapter members had a very different life experience.

“The chapter was founded by guys who went to Vietnam. They flew combat missions and came home after seeing stuff that no one at any age should have seen, let alone 19- and 20-year olds.”

Overall, he is confident “his house” remains in good hands. “The people who were there when I was were fantastic, and it’s fun to see today’s members take their responsibility so seriously. By the time guys who just got initiated are graduating, the scholarship should be in full effect.”

He hopes students who benefit from the scholarship share his drive to give something back.

“No one had more fun than I did,” he says. “Riddle gave me the opportunity to have a fantastic life, a fantastic career. I look back at what I learned at that fraternity house, which frankly I think was even more than what I learned at the university, and I would just encourage students, when they are in a financial position to give back, to do it.”

Kingsley hopes to move back to Daytona Beach full-time one day and work more closely with the national alumni within the chapter. The “Winged Sigs” are sure to welcome him home.

Make a gift to the Fred. J. Ford Endowed Scholarship.

For more information, contact Mary Lynn Ulch at 386.226.7176 and or Jenni Craig at 386.226.7342 and