- NAME: Gerald Ford
- OCCUPATION: Lawyer, U.S. President, U.S. Vice President, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: July 14, 1913
- DEATH DATE: December 26, 2006
- EDUCATION: University of Michigan, Yale Law School (Yale University), University of Michigan Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Omaha, Nebraska
- PLACE OF DEATH: Rancho Mirage, California
- Full Name: Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr.
- AKA: Gerald R. Ford Jr.
- AKA: Gerald Ford
- AKA: Gerald Rudolph Ford
- Originally: Leslie Lynch King Jr.
- AKA: Leslie Lynch King
- AKA: Leslie King
- AKA: Jerry Ford
- AKA: Gerald R. Ford
Best Known For
Gerald Ford became the 38th president of the United States following Richard Nixon's resignation, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.
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Gerald Ford was born on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. A star college football player, he served in the Navy during WWII. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1948, Ford represented Michigan's 5th District for nearly 25 years before suddenly finding himself at the crossroads of history. He was elevated to vice president,
"I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances.... This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts."
"We are bound together by the most powerful of all ties, our fervent love for freedom and independence, which knows no homeland but the human heart."
"History will judge this Conference not by what we say here today, but by what we do tomorrow - not by the promises we make, but by the promises we keep."
and then became the 38th U.S. president due to Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal and subsequent resignation. Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election. He died in California in 2006.
Gerald R. Ford Jr. was born Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska, but kept neither his name nor his hometown for long. In just weeks, he was whisked away by his mother, Dorothy Ayer Gardner, to her parents' home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A plucky woman who would not tolerate abuse, she divorced his father, Leslie Lynch King Sr., within the year, and less than three years later, was married to Gerald Rudolff Ford, a local paint company salesman, from whence "Jerry" Jr. got his name—although it was not made legal until he was 22 years old.
Growing up in Grand Rapids, in the close-knit family with three younger brothers, Jerry Ford was not even aware of the existence of his biological father until he was 17. He became a local sports hero as captain of his high school football team and an avid Eagle Scout. His athletic prowess as a Wolverine at the University of Michigan eared him the designation of Most Valuable Player.
But instead of taking up a professional football career as offered by both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, Ford opted to take his economics degree to Yale University, where he attended law school and also worked as a football and boxing coach.
Ford got his first taste of political life in 1940 as a volunteer for Wendell Wilkie's presidential campaign, attending the Republican Convention that year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A year later, he graduated from Yale Law School in the top third of his class, and then returned home to Grand Rapids to work in a law firm, putting his toe in the water of local politics.
However, WWII intervened, and Ford enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He returned to civilian life in 1946, having earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal, and quickly resumed his law practice and civic activities.
In August 1947, Ford met his future wife, Elizabeth (Betty) Bloomer Warren, through mutual friends. A former model and dancer with Martha Graham's company in New York City, the recent divorcee had recently returned home to Grand Rapids and was employed as department store fashion coordinator, while also teaching dance to handicapped children.
Less than a year later, Ford decided to run for Congress to represent his Michigan district (District 5). He and Betty were married in October 1948, a few weeks before his sweeping victory, which would sweep both newlyweds away to Washington, D.C. for the next 30 years.
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