RICHMOND, Va. - When you reach the century mark of age, the list of people that have come and gone in your life is long.
But for 100-year-old Hilda Ford, one uniformed friend has remained a constant.
“I’m always excited to see her,” said Ford. “Like I said, she is like my granddaughter.”
Lt. Col. Linda Toney and Ford’s friendship stretches back nearly 30 years.
The vaccinated pair was reunited recently. It was the first the first time they saw each other since the pandemic started a year ago.
On that day, the veteran police officer with the Henrico Police Department delivered birthday gifts to the Dogwood Terrace resident.
Their friendship was born from sadness.
On the night of February 28th, 1994, Toney responded to Ford's home the evening her husband passed away.
“A few days later I followed up and sent her a sympathy card and came by the house to see how she was doing,” said Toney. “That is how our friendship started. We stayed in contact ever since then.”
The pair has remained close through the highs and lows.
“When my daughter, died she was right there,” said Ford.
Toney said Ford is a highlight of her 29 years on the force.
“Being a police officer is about relationships, so to me this friendship has truly meant the world to me,” said Toney.
During her career, Toney’s performance led to many promotions. In May 2019, she became the highest-ranking woman in the department’s history.
“This job is about hard work and not what your sex or rank is or how you do your job, it's if you treat people the right way,” said Toney.
The Charlottesville native and VCU graduate said her dream job exceeds expectations. To say her centenarian friend is proud is an understatement.
“She showed me comfort and care all through the years,” said Ford. “I think it is wonderful and she is so cute in her uniform.”
“I see her as a role model to me at 100, but I see her teaching me what it means to have a good friend,” said Toney.
Toney and Ford enjoy an unbreakable bond whose friendship deepens with each passing milestone.
“Truly this job is about relationships and making a difference and if only one person sees this story and sees what we do on a daily basis that means a lot,” said Toney.
Toney will be retiring from the Henrico Police Department in the next few months. She may be stepping away from police work but not the bond she has built with Ford.
Ford said she can always count on her friend to be there when she needs her.
Another high-ranking police officer joined Henrico County’s Police Department. Lt. Col. Barbara West joined the force in January of 2021.
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