Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford - 38th U.S. President -1913-2006

President Gerald Ford - 1913-2006
Rest In Peace Gentleman Statesman.

Leslie King & Dorothy Gardner-King

Gerald R. Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the son of Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King, on July 14, 1913. His mother was forced to flee from the physically abusive marriage just two weeks after the wedding. Mrs. King discovered shortly after the separation that she was with child. She moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to live with her parents. Two years later she married Gerald R. Ford.

The Fords began calling their son Gerald R. Ford, Jr. even before his name was legally changed. At age thirteen he learned that Gerald Ford, Sr., was not his biological father.

Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Ford Sr

In high school Gerald Ford excelled in academics, and sports. He was also an Eagle Scout. Upon graduating he entered the University of Michigan in 1931, and graduated with a B.A. in Economics, and Political Science in 1935.

Gerald Ford - University of Michigan - 1933

After graduating he was offered the opportunity to play professional football, but took a position at Yale as a boxing coach, and was admitted as a law student at Yale in 1938. He earned his law degree in 1941, and returned to Michigan where he passed the Bar Exam.

Navy Officer Gerald Ford - WWII

Gerald Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserves in 1942. He served as a physical fitness trainer, and navigator aboard the aircraft carrier USS MONTEREY. He came within inches of being swept overboard during a typhoon in the Philippine Sea.

A Buff Gerald Ford (athletic director) Fights for a Tip Off - USS MONTEREY

Ford returned to civilian life in 1946, joining a prestigious law firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In 1948 Ford made a successful bid for Congress, marrying Betty Warren during the campaign.

Gerald Ford married Betty Bloomer Warren on October 15th, 1948

During the 1950s the Fords had four children. Ford began his career in Congress in 1949, and was reelected with wide margins twelve times.

Ford Congressional Campaign Advertisement (1948)

In 1973 when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after pleading no contest to charges of income tax evasion President Nixon appointed Gerald Ford to replace Agnew. Ford not only had a reputation for honesty, but was a strong Nixon supporter.

The Nixon administration self destructed when it became mired in the Watergate scandal. Nixon became the first President to resign his office when impeachment became a certainty. Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States on August 9, 1974, stating "the long national nightmare is over". He later granted a pardon to Nixon.

Ford's administration was known for using the Veto. The U.S. economy continued on a downward slide, and the U.S. military withdrew from Vietnam.

Pat & Gerald Ford Whistle Stop Tour (1976)

Gerald Ford's bid for the presidency faced strong opposition in 1976 from the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter. Carter won the election thus ending Gerald Ford's political career.
My Thoughts on Gerald Ford

I had the opportunity to see Gerald Ford speak twice during the 1976 presidential campaign. Dave of The11thhour was with me on both occasions. Ford visited Springfield, Illinois during his Whistle Stop Tour, stopping at the corner of 3rd, and Jefferson Street (Train Station). Actor Chuck Conner came along for star appeal. I was struck at how tall Chuck Connor was.

Gerald Ford also spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Home that year stating, "I am not a Lincoln, I'm a Ford". I was on the lawn directly across the street, and at the time was unimpressed with anyone who would say such a thing.

I always thought Ford was an honorable man. He was exactly what the nation needed in a very dark time. The nation was deeply skeptical about politics, and our recent departure from Vietnam led many to believe that the nation's best days were over. Ford's pardon of Nixon was probably the best decision that could have been made at the time, although I opposed it then.

While I passed out political campaign material for Carter I came to respect Gerald Ford. I often wish that the Republican Party had people like Gerald Ford in it today. It will be a long time before we see the likes of a Gerald Ford again.

Gerald Ford was a gentleman, and an honorable man. May his example shine forth leading others to public service.


Photographs used in this post were obtained from the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, and Museum Website, and are in the public domain. No permission is needed to use them. Please see their website for additional information.

I used the Gerald Ford biography, provided on the Presidential Library website to write this post. I rewrite, and consolidated the information that I found there in an attempt to avoid plagiarism (based on lack of quotations), and I have provided a link to their website.

You may follow this link to obtain more information about Gerald Ford.

1 comment:

Randy said...

Very nice post. I am impressed that you were able to complete such a well written post just a few hours after the announcement of his death. Way to keep up on current events. You should have been a journalist...

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