The nation mourns the death of former President Gerald Ford. Born July 14, 1913, Leslie Lynch King Jr. born in Omaha, Neb. became Gerald R. Ford after this mother remarried and he took the name of his adopted father.He died at age 93 after years of failing health since suffering several strokes in 2000. He is survived by his wife Betty Ford, sons Michael Gerald, John Gardner, Steven Meigs, and daughter Susan Elizabeth.
Gerald Ford was a beloved man who left an outstanding legacy for his brief presidency in office and for America. In Nov. 2, 1948, he was elected to U.S. House of Representatives after defeating incumbent in Republican primary. He served In Congress for nearly 25 years, including stint as House minority leader. However, it was at the height of America’s worst hour that he came to the forefront of greatness. The Watergate scandal engulfed the White House. Lost of trust in President and Government by the American people replaced the confidence once felt.
On Dec. 6, 1973, he was confirmed as vice president after resignation of Spiro Agnew from the post. The troubles of the nations mounting, the President facing impeachment and the newly appointed vice president had to make a very hard decision. He could no longer support President Nixon and knew resignation was the only action left for Nixon as acting chief and commander.
Amidst a turbulent time and the Vietnam War, Ford became the 38th President of the United State with the resignation of the disgraced Richard Nixon facing impeachment on Aug. 9, 1974. He declared ” a long national nightmare” over and led the nation to recovery. He would later be accused of making a deal with the ousted President Nixon that would see Nixon granted a pardon. Before the pardon the newly appointed president saw a popularity poll of 71% that quickly dropped to 49% revealing the disapproval of a nation not yet healed.
Gerald R. Ford became president in 1974 when the Watergate scandal forced Richard Nixon from office, but the pardon of Nixon a month after becoming president hurt his popularity. It also contributed to his defeat in the 1976 election. He felt the pardon was the best decision for the nation at the time to begin healing and moving forward. In an interview years later, he re-affirmed his belief in that decision suggesting he knew it would not be popular with the people of America. He was very surprised by just how adverse America was towards him as a result of the pardon.
Former President Ronald Reagan said of him “he climbed to the top of his profession without wavering from his principles. When respect for government officials had begun to wane, he was, and still is, held in high regard.” At the White House, former President Clinton presented Gerald Ford with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award seven years ago. Mr. Clinton stated, ” he represents what is best in public service and what is best about America.”
His wife took front and center as she led the funeral persession for the man she loved, stood by and found herself an orginary woman livng an exrodary life through his appointment to the White House in 1973.
Gerald Ford’s funeral ceremonies for friends and family to pay their respects was on Dec. 29 with a private service at St. Margaret’s Church in Palm Desert, California. On Dec. 30, Ford was flown from the Palm Springs, California to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.
He was then lie in state in the Capitol rotunda before being moved to the National Cathedral for a 10:30 a.m. funeral service on Jan. 2 and laid to rest on Jan. 3 at his presidential library.