Forman Family Legacy Spans 100 Years in Florida

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The Forman family gathered in Fort Lauderdale on Christmas Eve in the backyard of their beautiful ranch-style home. Pictured from left to right, Seated: Carmen Cargill, Jennifer Forman, H. Collins Forman; Standing: Nathaniel Forman, Hamilton Forman, Robin Forman, Alyssa Forman, Becky Forman, Timothy Forman, Daniel Forman, Amanda Forman, John Forman, Sarah Forman and Ezekiel Forman. Photo credit: Justus Martin www.justusmartinphoto.com

The Forman name is a fixture in South Florida, affixed to education buildings and parks and drawing respect within the community. Hamilton McClure Forman and Blanche Collins Forman were pioneers from Illinois who pitched a tent in the Everglades in 1910 on land they bought sight unseen. When growing potatoes proved difficult, they started South Florida’s first dairy farm in 1914 in what is now Davie and were the first tenders of the Sewell Lock on the New River Canal at Davie Road. Their sons, Hamilton C. Forman and Charles R. Forman, together with their wives influenced the development of and operation of the North Broward Hospital District for 28 years, as well as the water management district and the route of Florida’s turnpike. The family donated the land for Davie’s 825-acre South Florida Educational Complex and lobbied for the creation of the junior college system, which includes Broward College.

Today, one third generation Forman, H. Collins Forman, Jr. carries on the family legacy of service to the community. His strong Christian faith is demonstrated through leadership at First Christian Church Fort Lauderdale, the church his grandparents helped establish more than 100 years ago. He serves on the board of the National Christian Foundation, which supports whole life generosity, and his family is involved in missions, leading a life of hospitality.

As a lawyer, Collins has handled government work for the Port Everglades Authority and Broward County, but primarily concentrates his practice on real estate transactions and real property litigation. On Sunday mornings, however, you’ll find him leading worship at First Christian Church Fort Lauderdale and occasionally preaching the sermon. Collins tells how the church was founded in 1911 by his grandparents on the front porch of a friend’s house in downtown Fort Lauderdale, until 1926 when Frank Croissant, developer of the Croissant Park Neighborhood, offered to donate land to whichever church could find the money to construct a building. The lot they were given had been a quarry because it was on a coral ridge; they had dug there for rock to build roads and for fill in the neighborhood. Because of this, First Christian Church is one of the only buildings you’ll find in South Florida with a basement. They began construction before the hurricane of 1926 came through and destroyed everything. Starting all over again, the sanctuary was completed the next year.

 

Education and politics

Education is a value the Formans hold dear. Collins sits on the Board of Directors for the Charter Schools of Excellence, which was co-founded by his father. The Hamilton M. and Blanche C. Forman Christian Foundation has donated to a number of educational endeavors including an expansion at Westminster Academy in the 1990s, which resulted in its campus being named the Blanche Collins Forman Campus. Collins’ grandmother, Blanche was a woman of faith, an elementary school teacher and principal. Nova Blanche Forman Elementary School in Davie also bears her name. You’ll find the Hamilton C. Forman Auditorium at Nova High School; the Lucy W. and Charles R. Forman Center at Broward College is named after his uncle, who was a veterinarian and school board member; and there is the Dr. Charles and Hamilton Forman Building for Oceanographic Research at Nova Southeastern University.

The Formans were also active in politics. “Here’s one of the things my grandfather did,” said Collins. “He would print flyers and rubber band them to the necks of the milk bottles, so when they delivered the milk, they would deliver his political circulars. He became influential that way and was known as an honest man. He would often buy ads in the newspaper to publish his opinions, and at the end he would always say, ‘with good will toward all and with malice toward none, my opinion.’”

According to Collins, it was a miraculous bond vote that stirred his father’s faith. In the early 1950’s Hamilton C. Forman traveled to Tallahassee to challenge a bond issue in the Florida Supreme Court, but lost. On the way home his father said, the only thing that’s going to stop this bond issue now is if there’s a low voter turnout. So, promise me that when you get home tonight, you’ll pray for a cloud burst to bring low voter turnout. A skeptic at the time, Ham grudgingly kept his word and prayed. When he awoke early the next morning the skies were clear, but the clouds quickly rolled in, and it poured that entire election day.  The bond issue failed, and Ham Forman’s faith was bolstered.

 

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The Forman family pictured from left to right: Timothy Forman, Becky Forman, Amanda Forman, H. Collins Forman, Jr., Jennifer Forman, John Forman, Ezekiel Forman, Sarah Forman, Alyssa Forman, Daniel Forman, Nathaniel Forman, Hamilton Forman, Robin Forman. Photo credit: Justus Martin

Homeschool and Bible study

Married 42 years, Collins met his wife Jennifer at a student government event while they were both attending what was then Broward Community College. She was a chemistry major who had traveled from Jamaica to attend school and Collins was studying business. They both earned their associate degrees at Broward College, bachelor’s degrees at Florida Atlantic University and law degrees at Nova Southeastern University then began a family, which has now grown to include six adult children and two grandchildren.

When their first son Timothy was 6-months old, Collins and Jennifer attended a seminar by Dr. Raymond Moore, author of The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, and decided they would home educate their children. “Part of why we homeschooled is because we wanted to rear children who really knew and loved the Lord,” explained Jennifer. “And I remember Dr. Moore saying there were three parts to healthy homeschooling: learning to work, learning to serve and then academics. So, when the kids were little, we always looked for ways to serve as a family.”

For many years, they served the homeless through Shepherd’s Way, the ministry which is now Hope South Florida. “They would meet at our church one night a week and the church fed them. The Forman children led an Awana program for their kids and we taught parenting classes,” Jennifer explained. The family provided chapel for the Teen Challenge Southeast Region – Davie Women’s Home with Jennifer teaching parenting classes. And individually the Forman children have volunteered at Grace Place School and served as coaches in the SAINTS Homeschool P.E. program, among other activities.

To accommodate the needs of their large family, the Formans joined together two adjacent houses into one home with plenty of space to host large Bible studies and homeschool. The spacious backyard serves as a playground with a wooden swing set, basketball hoops and an old Ficus tree that provides plenty of shade for outdoor gatherings.

Today their son Timothy and his wife Becky, live around the corner in the home that previously belonged to his grandfather. They are a tight knit family that lives by the motto “the more the merrier.”  Over the years hundreds have attended Bible studies hosted for all ages at their home, participated in homeschool activities or social events there, and a few have even lived with the family while going through a period of transition.

“Our heart is to disciple and to encourage people to grow in faith,” said Jennifer. “Homeschooling allowed us to have the freedom to pick curriculum, to make Bible time a focus for us and to give us the flexibility to travel and not be at the speed of others.”

 

Travel and missions

And they have traveled the world, learning history firsthand. Collins said it all began when his class was studying Australia at school in the 1960s. “I came home and asked my father if he’d ever seen a platypus and said I’d like to see one.” Shortly later his father announced, “We’re going to Australia to see a platypus.  It was the Louise Eggleston Friendship Tour, a widow from Norfolk, VA, who believed in prayer, and the Forman family’s first of many international trips.

Jennifer said Collins loves to travel. “He thinks that’s the best education and loves to take the kids and just see what God has made, whether it be safari in Africa or going to Southeast Asia. They get a lot of history, and they get to see it for what it is – to learn about the different religions and groups and talk about it.” The list of destinations they’ve visited reads like a world atlas: China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Albania, Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, France and Great Britain. They’ve also done domestic travel. When the kids were little, they took two Lewis and Clark trips in an RV, and traveled to historical destinations in the northeast, such as Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Boston and Plymouth Rock, often venturing off for four to six weeks at a time.

They mix in mission work along their travels whenever they can. While in Albania, for example, they told Bible stories to children at a Gypsy gathering there, hosted by a local church. A connection in Athens resulted in them helping a Salvation Army church distribute clothing to Muslim refugees from Syria. They presented Bible stories and prayer for refugee school children in Thailand and were invited by the pastor to distribute Operation Christmas Child boxes to the children. “It was really special for them to be a part of that because we had been making boxes for years!” Jennifer added.

The Forman children have also served on short-term mission trips with an organization called Global Encounters. Tim and Amanda went to Romania when they were 15 and 17. Some of the siblings have also served in Argentina, Peru, Myanmar, Ecuador and Guatemala, and as a family in Jamaica.

“They’ve all led teams or been on teams since they were in their teens. It was a three-week commitment, and it was one that our family committed to because when they went to Ecuador, the team actually met and slept here at our home before we drove them to Miami and sent them off to Ecuador. We’re still involved and still support them,” said Jennifer.

This summer some of the family plans to visit Oberammergau, Germany to experience the Oberammergau Passion Play, whose roots date back to 1633 when the Oberammergau villagers promised to perform the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every tenth year, if their people were spared from the bubonic plague.

 

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Forman Sanitary Dairy milk ad from 1938.

The Legacy Continues

As the children have grown and begun families of their own, they’ve each continued the Forman legacy of faith and service in their own ways.

Timothy is a professional artist specializing in spectacular oil paintings of Florida landscapes and attends and teaches at the family Bible study with his wife Becky. His most cherished family traditions are “family Bible-time, traveling the world together and weekly breakfasts with my dad. I also have some fond memories of being with all my family in Africa at the age of ten.”

A former Lifework Leadership Program Director, Amanda Forman, earned an MBA from Saïd Business School, at Oxford University and is currently working in London as Lead Business Designer at Zone, a subsidiary of Cognizant. Amanda attends Holy Trinity Brompton, the church that originally developed the Alpha course, an evangelism program now run in 169 countries.

Amanda said, “Overall – I really appreciate how our family has invested in people. Examples that come to mind are the work my grandfather did to de-segregate the hospitals, helping to create an integrated and holistic healthcare service for every person in Broward County, and the hundreds of thousands of students (including myself) that have had the opportunity to better themselves through taking classes at the schools, universities and colleges located on the site of the old family dairy. I also think of the countless people – of all types – that my parents have welcomed into their home throughout my life. They are truly the most hospitable people I know!”

After earning his medical degree from Florida Atlantic University, Nathaniel Forman is working on his fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He and his wife Robin have a 2-year-old son, Hamilton, and are active at Cross City Church in Columbus, hosting Bible studies in their home and serving in The Village, a ministry that cares for children and families in crisis. Their second child, a girl, is due in March 2022.

John Forman is Senior Director of Acquisitions with Bridge Industrial. He and his wife Sarah have a son, Ezekiel (Zeke) and attend The Exchange Church in Deerfield Beach.

Taking an active role in Christian ministry, Alyssa Forman now serves as Director of Marketing and Communications at First Priority South Florida and previously worked as an intern for the National Christian Foundation. She serves alongside her father on the worship team at First Christian Church Fort Lauderdale. Exploring her Chinese heritage from her grandmother, Alyssa is also studying Mandarin and recently initiated a Chinese New Year celebration for the family.

Alyssa said, “I’m proud to be a Forman because of the legacy of integrity my grandparents and great grandparents created. As shrewd as he was, he was respected by all because of his heart of integrity and the conviction to do what was right… Every Saturday morning, my grandfather would walk to our house, and we would make homemade apple pancakes! We still make them together when everyone is in town.”

She emphasized that quality time is a “big thing” in their home. “My dad, specifically, would work all day and so his way of spending intentional time was to take each of us out for a one-on-one breakfast (sometimes at 5 or 6 a.m.) before he went to work. On our way, he would ask three questions: Is there anything I’ve promised you that I haven’t done? Is there anything I can start doing or stop doing to be a better dad? Is there anything you’d like to see us do more of as a family? These three questions gave us as kids an opportunity to voice anything we needed to, even if it was just “I think we should go see a movie together as a family.”

The youngest, Daniel Forman is an industrial sales associate with Berger Commercial Realty.

Thankful for the Forman men and women who paved the way for him, Daniel said, “My family’s success is not only because they were smart business owners, but because they were good people who loved God and treated others with fairness and kindness. Now working in the same industry as most of my family before me, I see and hear how much respect and admiration people have for them and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

For more articles by Shelly Pond, visit https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/

 

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