Lyla Elizabeth Donley Ford

March 10, 1927 – August 14, 2019

After a short illness, our dear Lyla passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning, as daughter Karen and son-in-law Alan held her and sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. We are filled with sadness, but also with gratitude that she enjoyed a good life for 92 years, filled with family, friendships and love.

Lyla was born in Pueblo, Colorado, where she and her family resided until moving to California in 1944.  Lyla graduated UCLA with a major in Home Ec and a minor in Engineering—unusual at the time! She went to work at Douglas Aircraft Corp as a drafting proofreader, and it was during this time that she went on a blind date with Paul Ford, whom she married just 6 months later.  The newlyweds eventually moved to Seattle, where they happily settled in and raised their two daughters, Karen and Janice.

Lyla couldn’t help but be involved in her community, finding herself an active member of her daughters’ pre-school, the League of Women Voters, the UW Faculty Wives Club (yes, this was the 1960s), the PTA, Campfire Girls, the church, etc. Lyla could always be relied upon to help with a carpool or the (non-digital!) phone tree (remember those?). Her many hobbies included cake-decorating, which she and a good friend eventually turned into a business, selling supplies and providing thousands of beautiful creations for weddings and parties during the 1970s and 80s.

With Paul, Lyla thoroughly enjoyed dancing with local square-dance clubs, playing with a Mah-Jongg group, and spending quality time with friends, not to mention traveling all over the world! In addition, she spent many years singing and performing with her close pals in a Sweet Adelines barbershop-style chorus, which she absolutely loved. Thanks to her wonderful group of friends and neighbors, Lyla was able to continue enjoying these and other pastimes, as well as a general camaraderie, throughout her later years, even after losing Paul in 2008 and daughter Janice in 2011. If Lyla were here now, she’d thank you all for every minute!

Lyla will be so missed by her friends and family, including daughter Karen (Alan), brother Cliff (Pat), and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. We will hold an open-house party for Lyla later in October, which we will announce here. Should you desire, donations may be made to the Janice Ford Natural Dye Garden Project Fund ( or the Alzheimer’s Association (

Lyla is pictured here on her 92nd birthday, just 5 months ago, and—yes!—that’s her natural brunette hair color!


Such a fantastic lady - kind to the bone. Seattle Shores Chorus is sorry for your loss but our chorus in Heaven has another great bass.

- Karen Stark

Karen, My sympathies for the loss of your mom, dad, and sister. Take care, Peggy

So sorry for your loss, Betty and I had manny good times with your folks, helping to make the mirrored ball that hung in our square dance for years an also remembering the Christmas times singing, she will be sorely missed and hi to Alan. Roy Johnson and Sheryl Landry

Karen, my sorrow is great. My condolences to you and your extended family. Lyla will always be an important part of my life. When I joined Spirit of Sound Singers she was always kind and helpful to me making sure I was comfortable in my life as a fellow base. She was a wonderful and always upbeat person with and ever present sparkle in her eye. We all will miss her.


Barbara Wilso-Bilow

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