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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006

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The following notice was posted on the Ford Presidential Library web site:


Gerald R. Ford's signature

July 14, 1913 - December 26, 2006

Mrs. Betty Ford issued the following
statement from her home in Rancho Mirage, California:

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald R. Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, has passed away at 93 years of age. His was a life filled with love of God, his family, and his country."

Funeral details for the 38th President of the United States will be provided by the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capitol Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington Public Affairs Office to both the public and the media as they become available. Any media requests are to be directed to the U.S. Army Military District Public Affairs Office at (202) 685-4644. For information and press releases, visit the Gerald R. Ford Memorial site at www.GeraldFordMemorial.com

President Ford's family requests that contributions be made to the Gerald R. Ford Foundation Memorial Fund. This request includes donations in lieu of flowers. Information about the memorial contributions and the way you can send a message of condolence to the Ford family can be found at www.GeraldFordMemorial.com

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum are offering extended hours for those who wish to express their sympathy to the Ford family, including signing a condolence book.

In Ann Arbor, the Library lobby will be open 9:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 1:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, for approximately 7 days beginning December 28, 2006. The Library’s research room will be closed during this period.

In Grand Rapids, the Museum lobby will be open 24 hours/day until further notice beginning December 27, 2006. The Museum’s other areas, including all exhibit galleries and the gift store, will be closed during this period.

Gerald Ford: The Un-Elected President

President Ford is unique in American history as he is the only man to hold that office who was neither elected to it, or the Vice Presidency. He was appointed Vice President after the resignation of Spiro Agnew and became President upon the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate Scandal.

On August 9, 1974 Gerald Ford took the Oath of Office at the White House, then delivered the following brief remarks. The audio is choked with the emotion of this difficult time and serves as a time capsule view into the spirit of the nation at that time:



mp3 audio here.

"I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many. If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman -- my dear wife -- as I begin this very difficult job."

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Ford meets with Chief of Staff Don Rumsfeld and Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney in the Oval Office. April 28, 1975.
Ford Presidential Libary collection.

A Mike's America Personal Memory

I was too young to remember Congressman Gerry Ford who was the representative for Grand Rapids Michigan, where I lived at a very early age. But later, during the 1976 Presidential campaign I was present when President Ford visited Anderson Arena at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (where 8 years later I welcomed President Reagan).

It was a nerve-racking campaign. Nutcases like Squeaky Fromme (no doubt part of the diversity and tolerance crowd) had twice attempted to assasinate Ford. At the conclusion of his remarks a flashbulb exploded. The Secret Service grabbed him and hustled him out of there double time.

In the minds of many, Ford and his running mate Bob Dole ran a rather lackluster campaign. But Ford's wife Betty was for the first time a major asset in a presidential campaign. Somewhere I have a button proclaiming "Betty's Husband for President." Mrs. Ford was the model for modern American First Ladies. Her public struggle with breast cancer and admission of a problem with alcohol did much to remove the stigma previously applied to women suffering those afflictions.

Later, I wrote my senior Politics and Government thesis analyzing the impact of President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon on Ford's defeat in the 1976 presidential election. It's clear from the electoral data that the pardon caused just enough voters in key states to cast their ballot for Jimmy Carter. One wonders how they feel about that decision now?

Gerald Ford will be remembered as a man who came along when we needed him most. His presidency served as a vital transition between the difficult Nixon years and paved the way eventually for the election of President Reagan.

After leaving office, President Ford was a model ex-President. Follwing traditions that only seem to be observed by Republican holders of the highest office, he always conducted himself with the grace and civility that should be the norm for all holders of that office.

He was a good man!

Also posted at the Wide Awakes

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