Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Bloomer

Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Bloomer

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On October 15, 1948, future President Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Anne (“Betty”) Bloomer.

The handsome, blonde, blue-eyed Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went on to play football at the University of Michigan, where he was voted the team’s most valuable player in his senior year. He then worked as an assistant coach for Yale University’s football program while pursuing his law degree. After graduation in 1941, Ford earned extra money as a model. The next year, just after joining the Navy, Ford appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in his uniform, but was not officially credited with posing. It was during one of his modeling jobs that he met his future wife, Elizabeth Anne Bloomer, who was called Betty.

Ford went on to serve in World War II from 1942 until the war ended in 1945.

Following the war, he began a law practice and became involved in Republican politics. His passion for football was so keen that during his honeymoon in 1948, Ford took his new bride to a Michigan State University Rose Bowl playoff game against Northwestern University. That same year, he was elected to Congress; his career included service on the Warren Commission that investigated President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In December 1973, President Richard Nixon chose Ford as his vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned following charges of tax evasion. In 1974, Nixon himself resigned in the face of impeachment by Congress over the Watergate scandal. Ford took the oath of office on August 9, 1974.

Betty tried to keep a low profile during Ford’s presidency. However, in 1974, during Ford’s last days in office, she went public with the announcement that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, helping to develop greater public awareness of the deadly disease and inspiring women to seek early detection and treatment. After Ford left office, Betty publicly shared another personal struggle—her battle with addiction to alcohol and painkillers. In 1982, she opened the now-famous Betty Ford Center, an addiction-treatment clinic at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. In 2005, her husband presented her with the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006, at the age of 93. Betty died on July 8, 2011, also at age 93.

Ancestry of Gerald R. Ford

President Gerald Rudolph Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. on 14 July 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents, Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner, separated shortly after the birth of their son and were divorced in Omaha, Nebraska on 19 December 1913. In 1917, Dorothy married Gerald R. Ford in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Fords began calling Leslie by the name Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr., although his name wasn't legally changed until December 3, 1935 (he also changed the spelling of his middle name). Gerald Ford Jr. grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his younger half-brothers, Thomas, Richard and James.

Gerald Ford Jr. was a star lineman for the University of Michigan Wolverines' football team, playing center for national championship teams in 1932 and 1933. After he graduated from Michigan in 1935 with a B.A. degree, he turned down several offers to play professional football, instead opting for an assistant coach's position while studying law at Yale University. Gerald Ford eventually became a member of Congress, Vice President, and the only President not elected to the office. He is also the longest living ex-president in American history, dying at age 93 on 26 December 2006.

First Generation:

1. Leslie Lynch King Jr. (aka Gerald R. Ford, Jr.) was born on 14 July 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska and died on 26 December 2006 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. Gerald Ford, Jr. married Elizabeth "Betty" Anne Bloomer Warren on 15 October 1948 at Grace Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. They had several children: Michael Gerald Ford, born 14 March 1950 John "Jack" Gardner Ford, born 16 March 1952 Steven Meigs Ford, born 19 May 1956 and Susan Elizabeth Ford, born 6 July 1957.

Second Generation (Parents):

2. Leslie Lynch KING (Gerald Ford Jr.'s father) was born on 25 July 1884 in Chadron, Dawes County, Nebraska. He married twice - first to President Ford's mother, and later in 1919 to Margaret Atwood in Reno, Nevada. Leslie L. King, Sr. died on 18 February 1941 in Tucson, Arizona and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale, California.

3. Dorothy Ayer GARDNER was born on 27 February 1892 in Harvard, McHenry County, Illinois. After her divorce from Leslie King, she married Gerald R. Ford (b. 9 December 1889), son of George R. Ford and Zana F. Pixley, on 1 February 1917 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dorothy Gardner Ford died 17 September 1967 in Grand Rapids, and is buried with her second husband in Woodlawn Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Leslie Lynch KING and Dorothy Ayer GARDNER were married on 7 September 1912 at Christ Church, Harvard, McHenry County, Illinois and had the following children:

Gerald Ford Marries Elizabeth Bloomer Warren

On October 15, 1948, at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Ford married Elizabeth Bloomer Warren, a department store fashion consultant.

Warren had been a John Robert Powers fashion model and a dancer in the auxiliary troupe of the Martha Graham Dance Company. She had previously been married to and divorced from William G. Warren.
At the time of his engagement, Ford was campaigning for what would be his first of thirteen terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. The wedding was delayed until shortly before the elections because, as The New York Times reported in a 1974 profile of Betty Ford, "Jerry was running for Congress and wasn't sure how voters might feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer."

The Fords had four children:
Michael Gerald, born in 1950
John Gardner, known as Jack, born in 1952
Steven Meigs, born in 1956
Susan Elizabeth, born in 1957

October 15, 1948
Ford and Betty Bloomer Warren wed at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids. Marrying in the middle of his congressional campaign, the couple honeymoon briefly in Ann Arbor, attend the University of Michigan-Northwestern football game, and then drive to Owosso, Michigan to attend a rally for Republican Presidential candidate Thomas Dewey.

Betty began divorce proceedings and was granted the divorce on September 22, 1947. About this time, friends persuaded Betty to meet a young veteran and former flyer, Gerald Rudolph Ford. She reluctantly agreed and found that time flew in his company. They fell in love and he proposed in February 1948.

Second Husband: Gerald Rudolph Ford (1913 -2006 )

Second Marriage: The wedding was planned for the fall of 1948. Gerald was running for U.S. Congress and wanted the wedding to take place after the primary, but before the November 2nd general election. It took place at the Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids.

Date of Second Marriage: October 15, 1948

Age at Second Marriage: 30 years, 190 days

Personality: Outgoing, bubbly and cheerful, Betty Ford was a natural politician’s wife. She was an asset to her husband’s career but, from the start, she made it clear that she had opinions of her own. She enjoyed people, parties and music. Betty had a love of the arts that was equal to that of Jacqueline Kennedy. As the wife of the rising politician from Michigan, Betty had the opportunity to become acquainted with influential people in the political world. She got to know Bess Truman and later attended the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.

After the war he resumed his law practice and, in 1948, married Elizabeth Bloomer Warren, who was known to all as "Betty." In the same year he entered politics as a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He won reelection every year until he resigned in 1973 to replace Spiro Agnew as Vice President. Gerald Ford was a moderate, conservative, hardworking and loyal Republican.

Ford Biography

Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the son of Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King, on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents separated two weeks after his birth and divorced later that year. On February 1, 1916, Dorothy King married Gerald R. Ford, a Grand Rapids paint salesman. The Fords began calling her son Gerald R. Ford, Jr., although his name was not legally changed until December 3, 1935.

From 1931 to 1935 Ford attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he majored in economics. Ford earned his LL. B. degree from Yale University in 1941, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class. From 1942 to 1946 Ford served in the U.S. Naval Reserves, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander.

Gerald Ford served in the House of Representatives from January 3, 1949 to December 6, 1973. During the height of his first campaign Gerald Ford married Elizabeth Anne Bloomer Warren, a department store fashion consultant.

Ford became a member of the House Appropriations Committee in 1951, and rose to prominence on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, becoming its ranking minority member in 1961. In 1963 President Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1965 Ford co-authored, with John R. Stiles, a book about the findings of the Commission, Portrait of the Assassin. He once described himself as "a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy."

President Nixon was empowered by the 25th Amendment to appoint a new vice president when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President of the United States late in 1973, after pleading no contest to a charge of income tax evasion. He chose Gerald R. Ford to be the first vice president appointed to the office. Ford was confirmed and sworn in on December 6, 1973.

Following the resignation of Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974, Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office as President of the United States. In domestic policy, President Ford sought to minimize both inflation and unemployment through modest tax cuts, deregulating industries, and decontrolling energy prices to stimulate production. In foreign policy, Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger continued the Nixon’s policy of detente with the Soviet Union and "shuttle diplomacy" in the Middle East. U.S.-Soviet relations were marked by on-going negotiations concerning arms limitations, East European national boundaries, trade, and the historic Apollo-Soyuz joint manned space flight. In 1975, Ford joined 35 other countries and signed the Helsinki Accords affirming detente, territorial integrity and human rights.

Ford fought off a strong challenge by Ronald Reagan to gain the Republican nomination in the 1976 campaign. He succeeded in narrowing Democrat Jimmy Carter's large lead in the polls, but lost one of the closest elections in history.

After leaving office, President Ford continued to actively participate in the political process and to speak out on important political issues. The former President was the recipient of awards and honors by many civic organizations. He was also the recipient of many honorary degrees from public and private colleges and universities. President Ford died on December 26, 2006 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford

Elizabeth "Betty" Ford became First Lady without her husband ever having to campaign for the Presidency or the Vice-Presidency. Gerald Ford was selected as Vice-President after the resignation of Spiro Agnew. When President Nixon himself resigned, Ford was elevated to the nation's highest office. Betty Bloomer's life has been nothing if not extraordinary. At various times she has been a dancer for Martha Graham, a John Robert Powers model, a fashion coordinator and a Congressional wife. She never expected, however, to be First Lady.
While growing up in Grand Rapids, Betty Bloomer wanted to become a dancer. She studied with Martha Graham as a teenager and later joined the Martha Graham Modern Dance company. Although Miss Graham thought that Betty had the makings of a superb dancer, Betty decided to return home and marry a young furniture salesman, William Warren. The marriage ended in divorce after four years but Betty Ford always said the experience made her appreciate what a good marriage could be. Several years later, she met Gerald Ford. He was an All American football player and Yale Law School graduate. They married during his first Congressional campaign and after winning the election, moved to Washington D.C.

Eventually, Gerald Ford became an influential political figure who was occupied campaigning or on political trips some 200 days out of the year. Betty was busy raising their four children and, as she put it, "chauffeuring and cooking." When Ford was called upon to assume the Vice-Presidency, his wife was confident that he had only the remotest possibility of succeeding to the Presidency. She viewed impeachment or resignation as a "terrible thing for the whole world." When the unthinkable actually occurred, she and her husband put aside the plans they had made for his political retirement and prepared to move into the White House.

As First Lady, Betty Ford spoke out on a variety of issues. She declared that "being ladylike does not require silence." She publicly supported women's rights and the ERA. She favored appointing a woman to the Supreme Court. Shortly after becoming First Lady, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. Perhaps her most important contribution to the health of American women was her candid discussion of her battle with the disease. She hoped that other women would benefit from her experience. After she left the White House, Mrs. Ford founded the Betty Ford Clinic to help men and women overcome alcohol and drug dependencies.

Gerald R. Ford Biography

Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the son of Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King, on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents separated two weeks after his birth and his mother took him to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live with her parents. On February 1, 1916, approximately two years after her divorce was final, Dorothy King married Gerald R. Ford, a Grand Rapids paint salesman. The Fords began calling her son Gerald R. Ford, Jr., although his name was not legally changed until December 3, 1935. He had known since he was thirteen years old that Gerald Ford, Sr. was not his biological father, but it was not until 1930 when Leslie King made an unexpected stop in Grand Rapids that he had a chance meeting with this biological father. The future president grew up in a close-knit family which included three younger half-brothers, Thomas, Richard, and James.

Ford attended South High School in Grand Rapids, where he excelled scholastically and athletically, being named to the honor society and the "All-City" and "All-State" football teams. He was also active in scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in November 1927. He earned spending money by working in the family paint business and at a local restaurant.

Gerald Ford at the University of Michigan, with fellow football players Russell Fuog, Chuck Bernard, Herman Everhardus, and Stan Fay, 1934.

From 1931 to 1935 Ford attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he majored in economics and political science. He graduated with a B.A. degree in June 1935. He financed his education with part-time jobs, a small scholarship from his high school, and modest family assistance. A gifted athlete, Ford played on the University's national championship football teams in 1932 and 1933. He was voted the Wolverine's most valuable player in 1934 and on January 1, 1935, played in the annual East-West College All-Star game in San Francisco, for the benefit of the Shrine Crippled Children's Hospital. In August 1935 he played in the Chicago Tribune College All-Star football game at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

He received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to take a position as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach at Yale hoping to attend law school there. Among those he coached were future U.S. Senators Robert Taft, Jr. and William Proxmire. Yale officials initially denied him admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities, but admitted him in the spring of 1938. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class in spite of the time he had to devote to his coaching duties. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign.

After returning to Michigan and passing his bar exam, Ford and a University of Michigan fraternity brother, Philip A. Buchen (who later served on Ford's White House staff as Counsel to the President), set up a law partnership in Grand Rapids. He also taught a course in business law at the University of Grand Rapids and served as line coach for the school's football team. He had just become active in a group of reform-minded Republicans in Grand Rapids, calling themselves the Home Front, who were interested in challenging the hold of local political boss Frank McKay, when the United States entered World War II.

In April 1942 Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserve receiving a commission as an ensign. After an orientation program at Annapolis, he became a physical fitness instructor at a pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In the spring of 1943 he began service on the light aircraft carrier USS MONTEREY. He was first assigned as athletic director and gunnery division officer, then as assistant navigator with the MONTEREY which took part in most of the major operations in the South Pacific, including Truk, Saipan, and the Philippines. His closest call with death came not as a result of enemy fire, however, but during a vicious typhoon in the Philippine Sea in December 1944. He came within inches of being swept overboard while the storm raged. The ship, which was severely damaged by the storm and the resulting fire, had to be taken out of service. Ford spent the remainder of the war ashore and was discharged as a lieutenant commander in February 1946.

Gerald Ford campaigning with farmers, 1948

When he returned to Grand Rapids Ford became a partner in the locally prestigious law firm of Butterfield, Keeney, and Amberg. A self-proclaimed compulsive "joiner," Ford was well-known throughout the community. Ford has stated that his experiences in World War II caused him to reject his previous isolationist leanings and adopt an internationalist outlook. With the encouragement of his stepfather, who was county Republican chairman, the Home Front, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Ford decided to challenge the isolationist incumbent Bartel Jonkman for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1948 election. He won the nomination by a wide margin and was elected to Congress on November 2, receiving 61 percent of the vote in the general election.

During the height of the campaign Gerald Ford married Elizabeth Anne Bloomer Warren, a department store fashion consultant. They were to have four children: Michael Gerald, born March 14, 1950 John Gardner, born March 16, 1952 Steven Meigs, born May 19, 1956 and Susan Elizabeth, born July 6, 1957.

Gerald Ford served in the House of Representatives from January 3, 1949 to December 6, 1973, being reelected twelve times, each time with more than 60% of the vote. He became a member of the House Appropriations Committee in 1951, and rose to prominence on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, becoming its ranking minority member in 1961. He once described himself as "a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy."

As his reputation as a legislator grew, Ford declined offers to run for both the Senate and the Michigan governorship in the early 1950s. His ambition was to become Speaker of the House. In 1960 he was mentioned as a possible running mate for Richard Nixon in the presidential election. In 1961, in a revolt of the "Young Turks," a group of younger, more progressive House Republicans who felt that the older leadership was stagnating, Ford defeated sixty-seven year old Charles Hoeven of Iowa for Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the number three leadership position in the party.

In 1963 President Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1965 Ford co-authored, with John R. Stiles, a book about the findings of the Commission, Portrait of an Assassin.

The battle for the 1964 Republican nomination for president was drawn on ideological lines, but Ford avoided having to choose between Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater by standing behind Michigan's favorite son George Romney.

Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and other members of the Chowder and Marching Club at a meeting celebrating Mr. Ford's becoming minority leader, February 24, 1965.

In 1965 Ford was chosen by the Young Turks as their best hope to challenge Charles Halleck for the position of minority leader of the House. He won by a small margin and took over the position early in 1965, holding it for eight years.

Ford led Republican opposition to many of President Johnson's programs, favoring more conservative alternatives to his social welfare legislation and opposing Johnson's policy of gradual escalation in Vietnam. As minority leader Ford made more than 200 speeches a year all across the country, a circumstance which made him nationally known.

In both the 1968 and 1972 elections Ford was a loyal supporter of Richard Nixon, who had been a friend for many years. In 1968 Ford was again considered as a vice presidential candidate. Ford backed the president's economic and foreign policies and remained on good terms with both the conservative and liberal wings of the Republican party.

Because the Republicans did not attain a majority in the House, Ford was unable to reach his ultimate political goal--to be Speaker of the House. Ironically, he did become president of the Senate. When Spiro Agnew resigned the office of Vice President of the United States late in 1973, after pleading no contest to a charge of income tax evasion, President Nixon was empowered by the 25th Amendment to appoint a new vice president. Presumably, he needed someone who could work with Congress, survive close scrutiny of his political career and private life, and be confirmed quickly. He chose Gerald R. Ford. Following the most thorough background investigation in the history of the FBI, Ford was confirmed and sworn in on December 6, 1973.

Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger as Mrs. Ford looks on, August 9, 1974.

The specter of the Watergate scandal, the break-in at Democratic headquarters during the 1972 campaign and the ensuing cover-up by Nixon administration officials, hung over Ford's nine-month tenure as vice president. When it became apparent that evidence, public opinion, and the mood in Congress were all pointing toward impeachment, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign from that office.

Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office as President of the United States on August 9, 1974, stating that ". our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works."

Within the month Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller for vice president. On December 19, 1974, Rockefeller was confirmed by Congress, over the opposition of many conservatives, and the country had a full complement of leaders again.

One of the most difficult decisions of Ford's presidency was made just a month after he took office. Believing that protracted legal proceedings would keep the country mired in Watergate and unable to address the other problems facing it, Ford decided to grant a pardon to Richard Nixon prior to the filing of any formal criminal charges. Public reaction was mostly negative Ford was even suspected of having made a "deal" with the former president to pardon him if he would resign. The decision may have cost him the election in 1976, but President Ford always maintained that it was the right thing to do for the good of the country.

President Ford inherited an administration plagued by a divisive war in Southeast Asia, rising inflation, and fears of energy shortages. He faced many difficult decisions including replacing Nixon's staff with his own, restoring the credibility of the presidency, and dealing with a Congress increasingly assertive of its rights and powers.

In domestic policy, President Ford felt that through modest tax and spending cuts, deregulating industries, and decontrolling energy prices to stimulate production, he could contain both inflation and unemployment. This would also reduce the size and role of the federal government and help overcome the energy shortage. His philosophy was best summarized by one of his favorite speech lines, "A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have." The heavily Democratic Congress often disagreed with Ford, leading to numerous confrontations and his frequent use of the veto to control government spending. Through compromise, bills involving energy decontrol, tax cuts, deregulation of the railroad and securities industries, and antitrust law reform were approved.

President Ford and Soviet General Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev sign a Joint Communique following talks on the limitation of strategic offensive arms in the conference hall of the Okeansky Sanitarium, Vladivostok, USSR, November 24, 1974.

In foreign policy, Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger continued the policy of detente with the Soviet Union and "shuttle diplomacy" in the Middle East. U.S.-Soviet relations were marked by on-going arms negotiations, the Helsinki agreements on human rights principles and East European national boundaries, trade negotiations, and the symbolic Apollo-Soyuz joint manned space flight. Ford's personal diplomacy was highlighted by trips to Japan and China, a 10-day European tour, and co-sponsorship of the first international economic summit meeting, as well as the reception of numerous foreign heads of state, many of whom came in observance of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976.

With the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 as background, Congress and the president struggled repeatedly over presidential war powers, oversight of the CIA and covert operations, military aid appropriations, and the stationing of military personnel.

On May 14, 1975, in a dramatic move, Ford ordered U.S. forces to retake the S.S. MAYAGUEZ, an American merchant ship seized by Cambodian gunboats two days earlier in international waters. The vessel was recovered and all 39 crewmen saved. In the preparation and execution of the rescue, however, 41 Americans lost their lives.

On two separate trips to California in September 1975 Ford was the target of assassination attempts. Both of the assailants were women -- Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.

During the 1976 campaign, Ford fought off a strong challenge by Ronald Reagan to gain the Republican nomination. He chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate and succeeded in narrowing Democrat Jimmy Carter's large lead in the polls, but finally lost one of the closest elections in history. Three televised candidate debates were focal points of the campaign.

Upon returning to private life, President and Mrs. Ford moved to California where they built a new house in Rancho Mirage. President Ford's memoir, A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, was published in 1979.

After leaving office, President Ford continued to actively participate in the political process and to speak out on important political issues. He lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities on such issues as Congressional/White House relations, federal budget policies, and domestic and foreign policy issues. He attended the annual Public Policy Week Conferences of the American Enterprise Institute, and in 1982 established the AEI World Forum, which he hosted for many years in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. This was an international gathering of former and current world leaders and business executives to discuss political and business policies impacting current issues.

In 1981, the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were dedicated. President Ford participated in conferences at either site dealing with such subjects as the Congress, the presidency and foreign policy Soviet-American relations German reunification, the Atlantic Alliance, and the future of American foreign policy national security requirements for the ‘90s humor and the presidency and the role of first ladies.

The former president was the recipient of numerous awards and honors by many civic organizations. He was also the recipient of many honorary Doctor of Law degrees from various public and private colleges and universities.

President Ford died on December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. After ceremonies in California, Washington, and Grand Rapids, he was interred on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum is part of the Presidential Libraries System administered by
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Person:Gerald Ford (1)

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King Jr. July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was an American politician who served as the 38th president of the United States from August 1974 to January 1977. Before his accession to the presidency, Ford served as the 40th vice president of the United States from December 1973 to August 1974. Ford is the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office by the United States Electoral College.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ford attended the University of Michigan and Yale Law School. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving from 1942 to 1946 he left as a lieutenant commander. Ford began his political career in 1949 as the U.S. representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district. He served in this capacity for 25 years, the final nine of them as the House Minority Leader. Following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, Ford was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment. After the resignation of Richard Nixon, Ford immediately assumed the presidency. His 895 day-long presidency is the shortest in U.S. history for any president who did not die in office.

As president, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, which marked a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the collapse of South Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially . Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. In one of his most controversial acts, he granted a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford's presidency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In the Republican presidential primary campaign of 1976, Ford defeated former California Governor Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination. He narrowly lost the presidential election to the Democratic challenger, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. His moderate views on various social issues increasingly put him at odds with conservative members of the party in the 1990s and early 2000s. After experiencing a series of health problems, he died at home on December 26, 2006.

Married Elizabeth "Betty" Bloomer Warren in 1948 during the campaign for his first term in the House.

10 Facts About Gerald Ford

Former president Gerald Ford (1913-2006) had the unenviable task of following a disgraced Richard Nixon, the first man to resign from the presidency, in the wake of the Watergate scandal. During his relatively short 895 days as president, Ford had to attempt to restore American confidence in the Oval Office. For more on our 38th president, take a look at some of the more unusual facts about his early years, his political feats, and why he once considered being a co-president with Ronald Reagan.


Ford was born Leslie Lynch King Junior, son to Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy King, on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. After his parents got a divorce, his mother remarried a paint salesman named Gerald Rudolff Ford. After his mother remarried, the future president was referred to as “Junior King Ford.” According to his autobiography, around the age of 12, Ford found out that Ford Sr. wasn’t his biological father. But the fact didn’t sink in until 1930, when King visited him. Ford recalled their conversation as “superficial.” His birth-father handed him $25 and disappeared. The future President legally changed his name to Gerald Ford in 1935.


Michigan University/Getty Images

Ford was always on the lookout for ways to earn money to make his way through law school—so when he was asked to pose for a Look magazine photo spread with girlfriend and model Phyllis Brown in 1940, he did it. The 26-year-old Ford cavorted in the snow with Brown as part of a layout on winter vacationing.


After attending Yale and entering law practice in Michigan, Ford became interested in politics. He won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1948, a post he would occupy for the next 25 years. That same year, Ford married Elizabeth “Betty” Bloomer, a former dancer and model. Ford later recalled that he was so busy campaigning that he arrived only minutes before the ceremony with mud still on his shoes. The wedding had been delayed until just before the 1948 House election because Ford was concerned conservative voters might take issue with marrying an ex-dancer who had already been divorced.


Ian Showell, Keystone/Getty Images

When Ford took office in August 1974, the American public looked on to see how he would adjudicate the fate of the man he was replacing. Nixon, who resigned rather than face impeachment, could have been up on federal criminal charges. But Ford opted to grant him a full pardon, reasoning that a prolonged trial and punishment wouldn’t allow the country to move past the controversy. Immediately, his White House Press Secretary, J.F. TerHorst, left his job after determining that he could not “in good conscience support [Ford’s] decision to pardon former President Nixon.”


Despite his background as an athlete—he played football at Michigan—Ford had the misfortune of being caught on camera when he suffered an occasional lapse into klutziness. He once tripped down the stairs while de-boarding Air Force One while skiing, a chair lift hit his back. The footage inspired Chevy Chase’s portrayal of Ford as a klutz on Saturday Night Live, which Ford took in stride. Sensing the American public wanted someone less like the studious, humorless Nixon, he appeared on SNL and once pulled up a tablecloth next to Chase during a formal dinner in 1975. “The portrayal of me as an oafish ex-jock made for good copy,” Ford wrote. “It was also funny.”


AFP/Getty Images

In addition to Ford’s clumsiness, satirists had a lot to dine out on when it came to some of Ford’s Yogi Berra-esque tongue slips. Americans, he once said, were possessed of a strong “work ethnic,” while “sickle-cell Armenia” was a disease for which he offered sympathy.


Ford, a dog lover, adopted a golden retriever the family named Liberty after he had already taken office. (Calling a breeder in Minneapolis, the White House photographer and friend of Ford’s, David Kennerly, told the kennel’s owner he was acting on behalf of a middle-aged couple that “live in a white house with a big yard.”) One night, the trainer was absent, and Liberty approached Ford at 3 a.m. to be let out. After doing her business on the south lawn, she and Ford tried to get back inside. When no one sent the elevator back down, Ford decided to take the stairs. The door to the second floor swung only one way: He got out, but couldn’t get back in. Eventually, the Secret Service was alerted to his absence and let him inside.


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Had it been up to two different women, Ford wouldn’t have lived to the ripe age of 93. On September 5, 1975, a disciple of Charles Manson’s named Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme pulled out a .45 pistol during Ford’s visit to Sacramento, California in the hopes of winning Manson’s approval. She was unable to fire a shot before the Secret Service apprehended her. In San Francisco 17 days later, Ford’s life was again threatened by a woman named Sara Jane Moore, a left-wing activist prone to mood swings. Moore was able to fire, though the bullet didn’t land anywhere near Ford. Both women were charged with attempted murder and stood trial. Fromme was sentenced to life and was released in 2009. Moore was also sentenced to life but got paroled in 2007.


A former president has never gone on to become a running mate for a presidential candidate, but Ford thought about it. In 1980, as Ronald Reagan was preparing for a Republican nomination, his team thought Midwesterner Ford would be appealing to voters who felt distanced by Reagan’s West Coast presence. Ford, however, chafed at the diminished powers of a vice-president and instead asked that Reagan’s campaign consider a “co-presidency” ticket that would give him greater influence in office. The idea was floated, but Reagan was ultimately unwilling to cede so much influence to Ford. He ran—and won—with George H.W. Bush instead.


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It’s rare that former presidents accept acting roles on primetime soaps, even when playing themselves. Ford was willing to buck that trend in 1983 when he appeared on Dynasty, the ABC series about the wealthy Carrington family of Denver, Colorado. The series was shooting a scene at a real charity ball in Denver in 1983 when producers spotted Ford and his wife, Betty, among those in attendance. They pitched him a scene in which he would briefly greet actors John Forsythe and Linda Evans. After being promised Betty would be on camera as well, Ford agreed. Both were paid scale: $330.



Grand Rapids (JFK+50) Gerald R. Ford*, the future 38th President of the United States, married Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Bloomer** at Grace Episcopal Church here in Grand Rapids 66 years ago today, October 15, 1948.

It was the second marriage for Betty who was divorced from her first husband on September 22, 1947. Mr. Ford, who was a first-time candidate for Congress, delayed the ceremony until just a few weeks prior to election day.

The New York Times reported.

"Jerry.. wasn't sure how the voters might feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer."

Gerald Ford, Deserted By His Birth Father, Adopted By Another

Gerald R. Ford, Jr. was born July 14, 1918 with the name of Leslie Lynch, Jr. His biological father did not choose to be a part of his son’s life. The divorce was finalized before he was one year old. The details behind the scene could easily have turned tragic.

His mother, Dorothy Gardner, the 20 year-old daughter of the town mayor, married the brother of her college roommate. Deeply in love, she soon realized her husband had a dark side. During the honeymoon, she discovered she was married to a man in possession of a charming exterior that masked a vicious temper bubbling just beneath the surface. He threatened her, often exhibiting dangerous behavior.


Discovering she was pregnant, and fearing her husband, Dorothy obtained help from the child’s paternal grandparents. She was cared for in a room in their mansion with her newly-born son. One day the biological father stormed into the room with a butcher knife, and threatened to kill her, the baby, and the nurse. Police were called. Later, in an Omaha courtroom, a divorce was granted, a rare event for 1913. The court ordered the biological father to pay alimony and child support. He adamantly refused, paying nothing.

A Gracious Love

So, it was left to mother and son to journey through the world. Dorothy met an amiable bachelor employed as a paint salesman, and during the following months, fell in love again. When her son was in his 2nd year, she married Gerald Rudolph Ford. Loving Dorothy, he desired to adopt Leslie as his own son, renaming him Gerald R. Ford, Jr.

Later the couple had three additional sons, but the baby was his namesake. As her son grew, Dorothy discovered that he possessed a fiery temper. She had an idea, and hoped her solution was workable. When his temper flared, she made him repeat the poem, “IF,” authored by Rudyard Kipling. Mother’s strategy soothed the young man’s temper in time. The final stanza of this moving poem is given here:

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue / Or walk with kings, nor lose the common touch / If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you / If all men count with you, but none too much / If you can fill the unforgiving minute / With sixty seconds worth of distance run / Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it / And, which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son” Rudyard Kipling

Unification of a Family

The next few years increased the family by three more sons. Gerald did not learn the true story of his roots until he was twelve, but no issue was made of it. They possessed family closeness.

Choices and Achievements

He attended public schools and played football in high school. Viable possibilities for professional football lay ahead, but he opted for law, working his way through Yale Law School. He received his degree in 1941, and was admitted to the bar. Briefly involved in the practice of law, he then chose to join the Navy in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Navy Life and Into Politics

The USS Monterrey, his Navy ship, took part in the recapture of the Philippines. Departing the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, he returned to law. A few weeks before his election to Congress in 1948, he married Elizabeth Bloomer. They were to have four children, Michael, John, Steven, and Susan. In 1949 Ford began his term as a member of the US House of Representatives during which he was re-elected twelve times. In 1973, he was appointed Vice-President under Richard Nixon, due to the resignation of Spiro Agnew to avoid criminal charges. History was written as Gerald R. Ford assumed the office on December 6, 1973.

Assuming the Presidency, Pardoning Richard Nixon, and Defeat for Re-election

On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. His decision was couched with the words, “It could go on and on and on or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and I must.”

It has been often stated that this action cost Gerald Ford the election when he lost his bid for the Presidency to Jimmy Carter from Georgia. This is undoubtedly true, but Gerald Ford had become a man who did what he thought he should do for the nation, and he did precisely that, with no regrets.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Unlike other Presidential libraries, the museum content is geographically separate from the library /archives. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and houses the 1974-77 papers of President Ford and those of his White House staff, papers of Mrs. Ford, and more. The Museum is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The permanent exhibit highlights the lives of President and Mrs. Ford.

Death of a President

Gerald Ford died at the age of 93. He is the longest living President in American history. He is survived by his wife, Betty Ford, three sons, Michael Gerald Ford, Steven Meigs Ford, Jack Gardner Ford, and one daughter, Susan Elizabeth Ford. His unique legacy was ‘rising to the occasion during a difficult time.’ President Ford, America thanks you for notable service in our time of need.

Betty Ford Biography

Betty Bloomer dancing at Camp Bryn Afon in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where she worked as a dance instructor. Ca. 1940.

Elizabeth Anne “Betty” Bloomer was born in Chicago on April 8, 1918 and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was the third child and only daughter of Hortense Neahr and William Stephenson Bloomer.

Betty developed a passion for dance at an early age. After graduating from high school in 1936 she attended the Bennington School of Dance in Vermont for two summers, where she met choreographer Martha Graham. She briefly continued her studies with Graham in New York City until close family ties took her back to Grand Rapids in 1941.

Betty worked as a fashion coordinator for Herpolsheimer’s, a local department store, and formed her own dance group. In 1942 she married William Warren, but the union did not last and they divorced a few years later.

A friend introduced her to Gerald R. Ford, Jr. in 1947. They married on October 15, 1948, two weeks before Ford was elected to his first term in Congress. Betty quickly assumed the tasks of a congressional spouse, doing volunteer work and providing tours of the Capitol to visiting constituents. She also devoted much of her time to raising their four children: Michael, John, Steven, and Susan.

Betty was thrust into the spotlight when her husband became Vice President in 1973 and then President on August 9, 1974. As First Lady, she became known for her openness and candor. After undergoing a mastectomy in September 1974 she purposefully discussed her breast cancer diagnosis to raise public awareness of screening and treatment options. She also addressed many issues that were important to her, including support for the arts, programs for handicapped children, and women’s rights, particularly the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

After Gerald Ford lost the 1976 election he and Betty moved to Rancho Mirage, California. In 1978, Betty’s prescription drug and alcohol use led to a family intervention and her self-admittance to Long Beach Naval Hospital for treatment. She again spoke openly about her experiences, becoming an active and outspoken champion of improved awareness, education, and treatment for alcohol and other drug dependencies. In 1982 she co-founded the Betty Ford Center, a chemical dependency treatment facility.

Betty Ford received numerous honors in recognition of her advocacy on various topics, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. She passed away on July 8, 2011.

This page was last reviewed on November 26, 2018.
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Watch the video: President Ford and Former First Lady Elizabeth Anne Ford


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