Facts about the 38th President of the United States
Gerald R. Ford arrived in Grand Rapids in 1913, two weeks after his birth in Omaha, Nebraska. He was originally named Leslie Lynch King, Jr. but his parents separated after his birth and his mother took him to Grand Rapids to live with her parents. Two years later, his mother married Gerald R. Ford, a Grand Rapids paint salesman. The Fords began calling him Gerald R. Ford, Jr., although his name wasn't legally changed until 1935. His boyhood home is located at 649 Union Avenue in the Heritage Hill Historic District.
Ford attended South High School where he excelled scholastically and athletically.
He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1935 and went on to obtain his law degree from Yale University in 1941.
Ford set up a law practice in Grand Rapids in 1941 and then joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and took part in most of the major operations in the South Pacific. His closest call with death in World War II came during a vicious typhoon in the Philippine Sea.
Gerald Ford was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948 and continued to be re-elected for 12 consecutive terms. He eventually became House Minority Leader.
When Spiro Agnew resigned from the office of Vice President in 1973, Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as Vice President.
After serving as Vice President for only nine months, Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the United States when Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.
Ford ran for president in 1976 fighting off a strong challenge by Ronald Reagan to gain the Republican nomination. He chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate but lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.
In 1981, the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids was dedicated and has evolved into one of the most entertaining presidential museums in the U.S.
President Gerald R. Ford passed away December 26, 2006 in Rancho Mirage, California. His wife, Betty Ford passed away July 10, 2011.