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Monday, 16 February 2015

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King Jr., on July 14, 1913, at 3202 Woolworth Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska, where his parents lived with his paternal grandparents.


His father was Leslie Lynch King Sr., a wool trader and a son of prominent banker Charles Henry King. His mother, Dorothy, separated from King just sixteen days after her son's birth.

According to Ford his biological father had a history of violence against his mother. He first hit her on their honeymoon for smiling at another man.

Dorothy married Gerald Rudolff Ford, a salesman in a family-owned paint and varnish company on February 1, 1916. Leslie was never formally adopted, and he did not legally change his name to Gerald Ford, Jr until December 3, 1935.

Ford was involved in The Boy Scouts of America, and earned that program's highest rank, Eagle Scout. He was the only American president who was an Eagle Scout.

Gerald Ford played football while in college, and, after graduation, was offered positions with both the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. He declined in favor of taking a coaching (both boxing and football) job at Yale University.

Ford as a center on the University of Michigan football team, 1933
In  1934, Gerald Ford threatened to not play for the Michigan football team because the school would not let his teammate Willis Ward, who was black, play against Georgia Tech, which refused to share the field with a black player. Ward talked Ford out of it and Michigan won.

A natural athlete, Gerald Ford kept up his interest in sports and fitness. Past the age of 60 he still liked to swim daily; and he skied, golfed, and played tennis.

Gerald Ford was a male model during his time between leaving for World War II and graduating from Yale Law. He was in Look magazine and was on the cover of the 1942 issue of Cosmopolitan.

Gerald Ford got engaged to Elizabeth “Betty” Warren when he was campaigning for what would be his first of thirteen terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. Betty was a divorcee and a former John Robert Powers fashion model and dancer in the auxiliary troupe of the Martha Graham Dance Company. The wedding was delayed until shortly before the elections because, Ford wasn't sure how voters might feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer. They eventually married on October 15, 1948, at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Gerald and Betty Ford on their wedding day, 1948

Gerald Ford was the only person be US Vice-President and President without having actually been elected to either office. He became Vice President when Spiro Agnew resigned the position, and President when Richard Nixon resigned from that office.

As president, Ford survived two assassination attempts: the first by a Charles Manson cult member, Lynette Fromme, in September 1975; the second 17 days later by a mentally unstable former FBI informant, Sarah Jane Moore. Both women served more than 30 years before being paroled. These were the only two presidential assassination attempts by women in US history.

Ford's 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.

Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days. He died on December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, of arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis.


Betty Ford died of natural causes on July 8, 2011, at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, aged 93. After leaving the White House, the one-time First Lady faced up to her alcohol problem and established the Betty Ford Center for treating addiction.

Betty Ford's official White House portrait, painted in 1977 by Felix de Cossio

Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

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