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President Gerald R. Ford

Gerald R. Ford was the 38th President of the United States (August 9th, 1974 - January 20th, 1977), 40th Vice President of the United States (December 6th, 1973 - August 9th, 1974), and 13-term U.S. Congressman serving Michigan's Fifth Congressional District (January 3rd, 1949 - December 6th, 1973).

President Gerald Ford
President Gerald R. Ford
Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Leslie Lynch King, Jr.

Date, time and place of birth: July 14, 1913, at 12:43 a.m., at 3202 Woolworth Avenue (the corner of 32nd Street and Woolworth Avenue), Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.

Date, time and place of death: December 26, 2006, at 6:45 p.m., at 40365 Sand Dune Road, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.A.

Spouse: Betty Ford (m. October 15, 1948 - December 26, 2006) (his death)
Wedding took place just after 4 p.m., at Grace Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.

Sons: Michael Gerald Ford (b. March 14, 1950, Washington, D.C.)
John Gardner Ford (known as Jack Ford) (b. March 16, 1952, at about 1 a.m., Washington, D.C.)
Steven Meigs Ford (b. May 19, 1956)

Daughter: Susan Elizabeth Ford (b. July 6, 1957)

Father: Leslie Lynch King, Sr. (a wool trader) (b. July 25, 1884*, Chadron, Nebraska - d. February 18, 1941, Tucson, Arizona)
Mother: Dorothy Ayer Gardner (b. February 27, 1892, Harvard, Illinois - d. September 17, 1967, Grand Rapids, Michigan, of a heart attack)

Note: President Ford's stepfather was Gerald Rudolph Ford, Sr. (b. December 9, 1890, Grand Rapids, Michigan - d. January 26, 1962, Grand Rapids, Michigan)
His adoptive father was in the paint business, and at the time of his death in 1962, Gerald R. Ford, Jr., remembered him as a man of great integrity who affected him more than any other person in his life.

Burial site: Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.

Error corrections or clarifications

* Government records confirm President Ford's biological father was born July 25, 1884. Note that 1881, 1882 and 1886 have all erroneously been reported as Leslie Lynch King's year of birth.

Biography - Residences of Gerald R. Ford

President Ford's parents separated just after his birth. Fleeing an abusive relationship, Dorothy Gardner King and her infant son left Omaha and relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live with her parents. He later became Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., following his mother's subsequent marriage to Gerald R. Ford, Senior.

He began attending the University of Michigan in 1931. A gifted athlete, he played center on the University's national championship football teams in 1932 and 1933 and was named the Wolverine's most valuable player in 1934. His skill was such that he received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to coach at Yale University. He had hoped to attend Yale University Law School, but wasn't accepted until 1938 as a result of his coaching positions. He graduated and passed the Michigan bar exams in 1941. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and remained on active duty until 1946 when he was discharged with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He remained in the Naval Reserves until 1963.

In 1948, just two weeks after his marriage to the former Elizabeth Ann Bloomer, Jerry was elected to his first term as a U.S. Congressman representing Michigan's Fifth Congressional District. For a quarter of a century, Jerry Ford served in the U.S. House of Representatives and became House Minority Leader in 1964. He had no desire to seek higher office, though he had hoped to become Speaker of the House one day. Gerald R. Ford went on to serve a total of 13 terms until his resignation from the House of Representatives, December 6th, 1973, to become the fortieth Vice President of the United States. President Nixon selected Ford to replace scandal-plagued Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.

By this point in time, the Ford family had expanded to include three sons and one daughter. Just eight months after his appointment, President Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in the midst of the Watergate scandal. The Vice President was then sworn in as the 38th President of the United States.

President Ford was the only man in U.S. history to occupy the office of both the vice presidency and the presidency without being elected to either position.

In September of 1975 President Ford was the target of two assassination attempts. The first was by Charles Manson follower Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme, and the second by Sara Jane Moore. Moore was a woman who had ties to leftwing radical groups in the San Francisco area. Both were later sentenced to life in prison. The President was not harmed in either assassination attempt.

Despite his brief time in office, Ford was credited with restoring confidence in the executive branch of the government and significantly reducing inflation. The most controversial, and likely most difficult decision of Ford's presidency was to grant a pardon to former President Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while President. The public reacted to the pardon with widespread outrage, and was considered one of the key factors in Ford's loss in the 1976 presidential election. The second major factor that prevented the President from retaining the White House was a major gaffe he made during a presidential debate with Jimmy Carter. He lost a good deal of credibility when he said Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination. He mistakenly claimed, "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration."

Following his defeat by Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential race, his public visibility diminished, while that of his wife increased. Her successful recovery from years of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, led Mrs. Ford in 1982 to co-found the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, for the treatment of chemical dependency. Thanks to the former First Lady's tireless work, the Betty Ford Center became one of the best known, most respected alcohol and drug abuse treatment facilities in the world. His wife was not merely a figurehead at the facility, but was an active, hands-on Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Betty Ford Center. Since its founding, popular singers, actors, sports legends and other celebrities, as well as ordinary citizens, have sought to overcome their addictions at the premier treatment center.

Betty Ford's unflagging candor occasionally generated controversy that resulted in some flak for the President, but the public always appreciated her willingness to speak frankly on subjects most of those in Washington politics avoid at all costs.

President Ford's autobiography, A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, was published in 1979.

Ford had a lifelong love of outdoor sports. He devoted much of his leisure time to skiing, tennis, and especially golf. Since so much of his spare time was spent within view of cameras, it was inevitable that they'd record the occasional fall on the ski slopes, or wayward golf ball. When he also slipped in the rain while debarking a plane, this seemed to cement Ford's clumsy image in the public's mind. His falls were ruthlessly (and hilariously) parodied by Chevy Chase on NBC's Saturday Night Live. Admirably, the former President continued playing golf past his 90th birthday.

It was not widely reported, but former President Gerald R. Ford and former President Jimmy Carter later became friends. In 2002, Ford's son Steven Ford, a longtime actor on TV's The Young and the Restless, revealed, "Dad and Carter are tremendously good friends today, they come from that old school which may not exist today. Back then in politics, you fought hard in the campaign, but you had respect for each other. There were no dirty campaign ads." He went on to explain "Now, dad does a lot of things at the Carter (Presidential) Museum and Library, and he also comes to help dad out (at the Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan). They speak together a lot."

In October 1999, President Ford and his wife were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for "dedicated public service and outstanding humanitarian contributions."

November 12th, 2006, President Ford became the oldest living U.S. president in history. The 93-year-old former president surpassed the longevity record set by the late President Reagan. Just before he broke that old record, Ford released the following statement: "The length of one's days matters less than the love of one's family and friends. I thank God for the gift of every sunrise and, even more, for all the years He has blessed me with Betty and the children, with our extended family and the friends of a lifetime. That includes countless Americans who, in recent months, have remembered me in their prayers. Your kindness touches me deeply. May God bless you all and may God bless America."

He died December 26th, 2006, at 6:45 p.m., at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Residences of Gerald R. Ford:
Note that these residences may no longer exist, and it's possible the addresses have changed over the years. This is not to suggest that Gerald Ford owned each and every one of these structures. We're only reporting the fact that he called them home at one point or another in his life.

3202 Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.
1960 Terrace Ave. SE (later became Prospect Avenue), Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
716 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
630 Rosewood Avenue, East Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
649 Union, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
2153 Lake Drive SE, East Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
1011 Santa Cruz Drive, East Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
330 Washington Street SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
1624 Sherman, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
2500 Q Street, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
514 Crown View Drive, Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A.
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
40365 Sand Dune Road, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.A.


The most in-depth of more than four dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile:
A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, (1979)
Betty Ford: The Times of My Life, (Mrs. Ford's 1978 autobiography written with Chris Chase)
Jerry Ford: Up Close, by Bud Vestal (1974)

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