Kal Tire founder and tire industry hall of famer Tom Foord, 89, passed away on April 12, just one month short of his 90th birthday.
Foord was born on May 8, 1922, in Instow, Sask. He met his wife, Norah, while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II and returned to her hometown of Vernon after getting married in 1944.
In 1953, Foord and partner, Jim Lockhead, founded Kal Tire, named after the local Kalamalka Lake. Over the year, Kal Tire grew into an international business, with more than 4,500 employees working in 19 countries.
Foord handed the president’s mantel to son-in-law Ken Finch in 2005, becoming chairman until he finally retires in 2009. Finch took over as chairman that year, and Foord’s son Robert became president.
During his successful tire career, Foord was active in supporting the Vernon community, and donating to and was involved in dozens of community and provincial programs. “Vernon has always had a special place in my heart. The least I can do is pay it back for some of the things the community did for me,” he said in a 2007 interview.
In 2007, Foord was honored with Vernon’s highest honor, the Freedom of the City, and he was named to British Columbia’s Business Laureates Hall of Fame in 2006. He also received the Order of B.C. in 2000 and received honorary doctorates from Okanagan College and Royal Roads University.
Besides his induction into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame, Foord was named to the Western Canadian Tire Dealers Association Hall of Fame.
Foord was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, who passed away on Feb. 25. He is survived by his children Jean, Colin, Nancy, Janet and Robert, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.