John Ford, former Waldo County sheriff and game warden, is seen in a 2002 file photo. He died Saturday at age 71. Credit: BDN File

John Ford Sr., the retired Maine Game Warden who chronicled his 20-year career in the central Maine woods over multiple books and in a popular newspaper column, has died.

Ford, 71, died Saturday, according to the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office, which announced his death in Facebook post Sunday. Ford served two 4-year terms as Waldo County Sheriff, until 1998, after retiring from the warden service in 1990.

It is with tremendously heavy hearts that the members of the Sheriff’s Office say goodbye to one of our own. John Ford…

Posted by Waldo County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, 18 November 2018

The post did not say how he died, but Ford referred to receiving cancer treatments on his Facebook page in a Oct. 25 post.

“His quick wit, infectious laugh and smiling face will be forever remembered,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Sunday.

Known for books such as “Suddenly, the Cider DIdn’t Taste So Good” and “Deer Diaries: Tales of a Maine Game Warden,” both published by local presses, Ford relied on humor to entertain readers while recalling rescues, run-ins, and foibles patrolling the woods of Waldo County.

“He wasn’t a cold, heartless, go-by-the-book enforcer,” according to one book reviewer. “He usually had a good quip ready when he slipped the handcuffs on a violator, and he wasn’t above accepting a lesson learned as sufficient penalty for breaking the law.”

Ford, a native Mainer, came from a long line of game wardens, according to his author page on the Islandport Press website. He served in the Air Force before taking up a career in law enforcement. In retirement, Ford also became known for his wildlife paintings.

As an author, he drew from a diary he kept during his time in Maine law enforcement, which also fed a column he wrote for the Republican Journal.

“[It was my stepfather who] was the one who told me, ‘You really want to keep a diary and keep track of the things that you really love about the job,’” Ford said during his book tour in 2015. “Thank God he did, because I can’t remember what the hell I did yesterday.”

He lived with his wife in Brooks.

Callie Ferguson

Callie Ferguson is an investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News. She writes about criminal justice, police and housing.