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Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr.

38th President of the US

This relationship was a surprise for me, not only because I had found yet another US President in my family, but because I have no Ford surnames in my  tree (at least not yet!).

 

Gerald Ford's birth name was not, in fact, Gerald Rudolph Ford, but was actually Leslie Lynch King, Jr., named after his birth father. The name "Gerald Rudolph Ford" was legally assumed after my 9th cousin, 2x removed, Dorothy Ayer Gardner (Ford's mother) divorced her first husband and then remarried Gerald Ford who became the future President's step-father. In 1935 the future President legally changed his name to that of his step-father, forsaking his birth name and becoming the person we would all come to know as President Gerald R. Ford.

Now that we have that out of the way, I have to admit that I do remember President Ford quite well from my childhood and he was the first President that I do recall.

Gerald Ford became the 38th President of the United States he served as the 40th Vice President of the US under President Richard Nixon. Surprisingly, Gerald Ford was not elected to either position but was appointed. The 39th Vice President was Spiro Agnew who resigned the post in 1973. Ford was appointed at the 40th Vice President to replace Spiro Agnew. Then, in 1974, President Richard Nixon famously resigned as President making Ford, who was then the Vice President, the 38th President of the United States.

For both of these appointments, Gerald Ford remains the only man in history to hold both the position of President and Vice President of the USA without being elected to either position. President Ford also holds the record for the shortest presidency - only 895 days - for any President who did not die while in office.

President Ford, while only in office for a little over 2 years, had served in various government positions since 1949. During his brief presidency, Ford granted a Presidential Pardon to President Nixon for his part in the Watergate scandal and also issued Presidential Proclamation #4313 which introduced a conditional amnesty program for military deserters and Vietnam War draft dodgers. This lead the way for a full pardon during President Carter's administration.

Ford also served on the Warren Commission, the panel set up by President Lydon Johnson to review the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

As an added twist to my family history, President Ford put forward another cousin of mine, Nelson Rockefeller to be his Vice President (which was eventually approved). Yet another family tie is with Gerald Ford running against yet another extended family member for the 1976 Republican party nomination who happened to be my cousin, Nancy Davis' husband, Ronald Reagan. Ford ultimately won the Republican nomination but lost the election to Jimmy Carter.

President Ford was also the victim of not one, but two assassination attempts during his brief Presidency. The first was by a follower of the infamous Manson Family, Lynette "Squeeky" Fromme on September 5th, 1975. Only 17 days later, a second attempt was made on the President's life by Sara Jane Moore. Both of the would-be assassin's were foiled by the Secret Service (Fromme) and by a Marine (Moore) who had seen the women with their guns. 

After losing the election to Jimmy Carter in 1976, Gerald Ford left politics but remained active in other endeavors and he and his wife, Betty, became close friends with President and Mrs. Carter. The two couples would often visit one another, with the Carters visiting the Fords in Colorado, or the Fords visiting the Carters when they were in Washington, D.C.

 

Gerald Rudolph Ford died on December 26, 2006 (12 years ago today) at his home in Rancho Mirage, California at the age of 93. It is interesting to note that he died on the 34th anniversary of President Harry S. Truman's death.

 

President Gerald Ford was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission and, until President George H. Bush, had been the longest living ex-President.

 

Leslie Lynch King Jr., aka President Gerald Rudolph Ford was my paternal 10th cousin, once removed. Yet another fascinating part of my amazing family history.