In remembrance of President Gerald R. Ford
January 3rd, 2007Gerald R. Ford passed away last night at the age of 93. For twenty-six years, he was the United States Representative from the Congressional District which consists of three counties in West Michigan - Barry, Ionia and most of Kent - the latter includes Grand Rapids and many of our cities and towns in Kent County. He was appointed vice-president of the nation in October 1973 and ultimately became president after President Nixon resigned in August 1974.
President Ford is known as the healer of the nation due to the fact that he pardoned Nixon so that the country was not consumed by the proceedings of a trail. It was not a popular decision at the time. However, with the passage of time, it was a good decision that demonstrated President Ford's integrity and foresight.
In April 1973 I graduated from Western Michigan University and Rep. Gerald R. Ford was the commencement speaker (testimony to the fact that sometimes we do remember who our commencement speakers were!). I can still remember the day he pardoned Nixon - I was a caseworker at the Red Cross in Grand Rapids and we were crowded around a small television in the staff lounge. There was a mixed reaction from the staffers at the time but as I said before, it would take years to understand the wisdom of his decision.
Later on I had the opportunity to meet the President on two occasions. The last time was in honor of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation's 70th anniversary when the President graciously agreed to appear in a video we made to show at our celebratory dinner. This was made possible through the kindness of Martin Allen, chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, who helped us arrange the filming of the President while he was visiting Grand Rapids at that time.
The Foundation extends our sympathy to President Ford's family and friends. Thank you President Ford for serving our local community and the country so well.