Joe T. Ford (Watson) Carlow

Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Joe T Ford

(Wednesday, February 09, 2005 By: Terry Reilly - The Nationalist Archives)

Carlow man’s links with the Superbowl

WHAT do Carlow and the Superbowl have in common? Joe T Ford, a Carlow man.

The Irish-American maintains strong links with his home county through the Carlow Heritage Society.

The rags to riches businessman bought the rights to name a stadium in Arkansas for his cell phone company, Alltel for $6.2m. Seven years later they play hosts to one of the world’s most extravagant sporting events.

Joe’s family, the Watsons, emigrated to the States from Carlow in 1850. They landed in New Orleans and moved up the Mississippi to a place called Little Rock.

Ford began life in the commercial world selling ads for the yellow pages. In time he became involved with a telephone company losing money at a rate of $12,000 a year when he took over and turned the wheel.

He began buying telephone companies all over the USA until last months acquisition of Western Wireless for $6billion. It included Irish mobile phone company, Meteor and made Alltel the fifth largest US wireless carrier. Not bad for a company on its last legs when he joined it.

Always fond of his Carlow heritage he returned home in 1990 with his wife Jo and was impressed. He contacted well-known historian Michael Purcell to trace his family tree and they became friends.

His second visit to his home county came in 1999 on the day he handed his company over to son Scott, who is also proud of his heritage.

Somehow, Joe manages to fit in his role as Chairman of the Augusta Golf Course in Georgia. Golf enthusiasts will know him as the man who presents the infamous green blazer to the winner of the Masters tournament.

“He really keeps this part of the world close to his heart,” said his friend, Michael Purcell.

Mr Ford is expected to visit Carlow again in the near future.

Source: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 By: Terry Reilly - The Nationalist Archives

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