Gerald was born in Omaha, Nebraska on July 14, 1913.
Gerald R. Ford Jr. was the only President born in Nebraska. He was also the only President that was a resident of Michigan.
He was named Leslie Lynch King, Jr. at birth. When his divorced mother remarried, he was adopted by his stepfather and named Gerald R. Ford after him. He was known as "Jerry." President Ford didn't know he was adopted until he was 12 years old. A second source says 17 years old.
When his name was changed on December 3, 1935 his middle name was spelled Rudolf. However, Ford used the spelling Rudolph to give less of a German name.
Gerald Ford considered himself a Republican from a very young age..
He was all city (Grand Rapids) and all state in football. He was the center on the University of Michigan Football Team. He also played linebacker. Ford was the MVP of the Michigan team. He was MVP on a team with a record of 1 and 7.
He then played on two national champion Michigan teams at center, but not as a starter. He was offered contracts to play football for the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. They offered to pay him $200 a game for a 14 game season.
Ford was one of three presidents who majored in economics while is college. George H. Bush and Ronald Reagan were the others.
He married Elizabeth (Betty) Anne Bloomer on October 15, 1948. The next day they went to a University of Michigan football game as part of their Honeymoon.
Gerald Ford was the first President whose parents were divorced.
Ford was the first President to have been an Eagle Scout.
Gerald R. Ford once worked as a fashion model. Ford was a model for Cosmopolitan and Look magazines in the 1940's.
Ford studied law at Yale University. He graduated in the top third of his class.
Gerald enlisted in the Navy Reserves on April 20, 1942.
He served from 1942-1946 he served in the U.S. Navy during WW II. His ship took part in most of the major battles. (Wake Island, Okinawa, and the Philippines.) He was a decorated Naval officer. Gerald was awarded ten battle stars for naval battles in the pacific.
He is right-handed, but he wrote with his left hand.
He always signed his name Jerry Ford.
Ford smoked a pipe.
He won his first election to the House of Representatives in 1948 by getting 60% of the vote. That was his smallest margin of victory in his career as a Representative. He spent 24 years as a representative.
One of his professional goals was to became Speaker of the House. To reach that goal he worked to get a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. (Several Speakers of the House had served on that committee.)
Ford was one of the members of the Warren Commission appointed to study the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was the last living member of the Commission.
While he was a congressman he bought a Polaroid Camera. They had just been invented and the camera printed a picture instantly. When people from his home district came to visit he would have their picture taken with him as a souvenir. If he wasn't in his office he allow people to sit at his desk and one of his aids would take their picture.
The president enjoyed butter pecan ice cream.
Ford was 6' tall and weighed about 195.
Ford was the only President who was employed by the National Park Service. He worked as a park ranger in Yellowstone in 1936.
Ford's congressional office was across the hall from another young congressman named John Kennedy. They became close friends. He also became friends with Richard Nixon.
When Nixon was getting ready to resign, he call Ford to the White House. The two shook hands and sat down. There was silence in the room and Nixon turned to Ford and said: "I know you will do well." At that moment Ford knew Nixon was resigning and he would become president. The next day Nixon resigned.
Gerald Ford was Vice President to Richard Nixon. The vote to confirm his vice president was 92-3 in the Senate and 387-35 in the house.
He was sworn into office by Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Gerald Ford became President with the resignation of Richard Nixon. He was one of 9 vice presidents to become president. He was the only vice president who didn't become president due to a president's death.
Gerald R. Ford was the only president not elected by the people as either vice president or president. Therefore, he is the only President to not run for the Presidency or Vice Presidency and become President. As one book states he was the first un-elected President. He was the Speaker of the House and replace Vice President Agnew when he resigned and then replace Richard Nixon when he resigned.
He was the second President to wear contacts while in office. Johnson and Reagan also wore contacts.
On September 8, 1974, President Ford granted a pardon to Richard Nixon. Ford was highly critictzed for pardoning Nixon and his popularity rating dropped quickly. Ford felt it was the only want to put the Watergate scandal behind him and the nation.
President Ford was the first president to visit Japan while in office.
President Ford hired a joke writer.
In 1975, Gerald Ford officially reinstated Robert E. Lee as a U. S. citizen. (Lee was the top ranking Confederate General in the Civil War.)
Gerald Ford also loved golf, but spectators had to watch carefully because the President was know for conking people on the head with his wild shots. However, he did have a hole-in-one to his credit. (He was the second president to do that. Eisenhower also had a hole-in-one.
President Ford said he wanted to "replace a national frown with a national smile."
He was an Episcopalian.
In 1975, two attempts were made to assassinate President Ford. One on September 5 by Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme. She was a follower of Charles Manson. The second was on September 22, by Sara Jane Moore. President Ford was not hurt in either attempt. (For more information see our page on the attempts to assassinate President Ford.)
Shortly after becoming president he gave a full pardon to Richard Nixon (Sept. 8,1974). Some people say that this lead to his defeat to Jimmy Carter in the next presidential election (1976). He is the only president to grant a pardon to another president.
Gerald Ford's Vice President was Nelson Rockefeller (1974-1977).
When President Ford entered the room the band would play the Michigan Fight song instead of Hail to the Chief.
President Ford vetoed 15 bills in his first three months in office. That was more that Nixon had vetoed in 18 months. However, many of those vetoes were overridden. He had more vetoes overridden than any other president.
On April 23, 1973, President Ford in a speech at Tulane University announced that the war in Vietnam was finished. Ford stated: "Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned."
On July 8th, 1975, President Ford announced his candidacy for the 1976 Republican presidential election.
On September 5, 1975, "Sqeaky" Fromme tried to assassinate President Ford. She had a loaded gun but there was a bullet in the firing chamber. She pointed the gun at Gerald Ford. The Secret Service restrained her.
After a second assassination attempt by Sara Jane Moore, the presidents started wearing a bullet proof vest.
Gerald Ford had Golden Retriever named Liberty.
The 1976 Presidential election was the only election he ever lost. Ford had several problems in running for president ion 1976. The economy was in bad shape. Economic growth had slowed and inflation was taking place. Also within his own party, conservatives were upset and wanted Reagan as their nominee.
The election of 1976 was the closest since 1916. Popular vote was 40.8 million for Carter and 39.1 million for Ford. The electoral vote was 297 for Carter and 240 for Ford.
President Ford was in office for 896 days. Only two Vice Presidents served less day. (Lyndon Johnson - 425 and Calvin Coolidge -580) It was the 5th shortest term served by any president.
In his last State of the Union address on January 12, 1977, President Ford stated: "I can report that the state of the union is good. There is room for improvement, as always, but today we have a more perfect Union than when my stewardship began."
President Carter first words in his inaugural address were: "For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land."
President Ford and President Carter became close friends and work on several programs together.
Ford won the John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage Award" for having the courage to pardon Richard Nixon. Many of his critics for pardoning Nixon came to realize later it was the best thing that he could have done to heal our nation and put Watergate behind us.
It was said that he always followed the three rules that he learned as a kid from Michigan: Tell the Truth, Work Hard, and Come to Dinner on Time.
Gerald R. Ford owns a home for skiing in Beaver Creek, CO.
The Fords became millionaires after he left office. He published several books, spoke at corporate functions and had a NBC contract.
Ford passed Ronald Reagan as the oldest person ever to be president Ford became 93 years and 121 days old. That was one month older than Reagan. (Oldest living and deceased Presidents.)
His obituary took three pages in the New York Times.
He lied repose in California, then Washington DC and was buried next to the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, MI.
At right is a image of the statue at the Museum in Grand Rapids, MI. It has basic information on the front and quotes by Ford on the other three sides.
My favorite is from his swearing in speech:
"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."
Quotes from Gerald Ford:
On being president: "I guess it proves that in America anyone can be President."
"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over." Gerald Ford on becoming president.
After an attempted assassination by Sara Jan Moore, Ford was shoved to the floor of the car and covered by three secret service agents Ford quipped "Can we turn on the air conditioning? It is getting stuffy in here."