***update: Dec 27 756am Eastern Bush speaks…Ford “was a true gentleman who reflected the best in America’s character…he commanded the respect and earned the good will of all who had the privilege of knowing him…for a nation that needed healing and an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came along when we needed him most…we mourn the loss of such a leader…May God bless Gerald Ford.”
Fox News reporting…
Statement from Betty Ford: “My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, has passed away…”
Columnist Martin Schram penned an appreciation of Ford last month:
Ford became America’s 38th president and, most importantly, America’s first never-elected president & the only person whose name never even appeared on a presidential ballot before taking the presidential oath. While his presidency was just two years and five months long, it was no mere historical blip. He was uniquely suited for the challenge he inherited & calming the nation after the implosion of a presidency, vice presidency and administration of criminals.
When Vice President Spiro Agnew was proven to be a crook and resigned, President Richard Nixon appointed Ford as veep. Nixon, already trapped in his Watergate web of lies and deceits, figured that the lightly regarded Ford would be insurance against his own impeachment. (It was neither Nixon’s first nor worst miscalculation.)
Just eight months later, Nixon resigned, fleeing sure impeachment and conviction; and Ford became president. In his presidency, Ford traveled to China and to a U.S.-Soviet strategic arms summit in Vladivostok. South Vietnam collapsed on his watch. And, of course, he pardoned Nixon. But Ford may have met his greatest challenge and performed his greatest service to the nation on Aug. 9, 1974, the day he took the oath of office.
In his inaugural address in the East Room, President Ford famously told a shaken nation: “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works . . .” In his speech, he also spoke a line that I’ve always liked best & because, in its simplicity, it summed up all that was wrong with the Nixon White House and all that would be needed to make things right: “I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together . . .” It was true that day and it is every bit as true today. It is why we always will appreciate Jerry Ford.
Scouring wires…here’s an AP dispatch:
Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon’s scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America’s history, has died, his wife said. He was 93.
Details on his death Tuesday were not immediately available.
Ford had been fitted in August at the Mayo Clinic with an implantable cardiac pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat after he had been admitted to a Colorado Clini days earlier for tests.
In January 2006, he was hospitalized for 12 days in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for pneumonia. Then in July, Ford spent a few days in Colorado’s Vail Valley Medical Center because of shortness of breath.
Ford became the nation’s oldest living former president after the death of Ronald Reagan in 2004.
From the Ford library and museum website:
President Ford’s Favorites
Hobby: stamp collecting
Breakfast: orange juice, melon, English muffins, and tea with lemon
Food: pot roast and red cabbage (for recipes see The White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller (New York: Random House, 1987, pp. 176-179)
Dessert: butter pecan ice cream
Hymn: The Navy Hymn – “Eternal Father Strong to Save”
Drink: coffee, iced tea
Participatory Sport: golf, tennis, skiing, swimming
Sports Figure: Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers
Parlor Game: bridge
Flower: apple blossom, azalea
Music: jazz, swing
Book: non-fiction contemporary history
Weather: sunshine on golf course, snow on ski slopes
Place to Visit: Vail, Colorado
Time of Day, Season: dawn, all seasons
Hero: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Most Unforgettable Moment: Noon, August 9, 1974.
Most Valued Advice: “That which comes from my wife.”
Memberships: American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, 33rd Degree Mason
Flashback: Photos of the two failed assassination attempts against Ford…
A CNN commentator says President Ford will be buried at the Ford library and museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan after funeral/memorial services in California, D.C., and lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Here’s President Bush’s statement.
Paul Mirengoff: “My favorite Ford moment came in his 1975 state of the union address when he declared, “the state of the union is not good.” Do you think we’ll ever hear another president make a statement like that when his party has controlled the White House for an extended period?”
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