Gerald Ford Dies
Ford died on December 26, 2006 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California of arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis.
His age at the time of his death was 93 years and 165 days, making Ford the Longest-lived US President. On December 30, 2006, Ford became the 11th U.S. President to lie in state. The burial was preceded by a state funeral and memorial services held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on January 2, 2007. After the service, Ford was interred at his Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ford died on the 34th anniversary of President Harry Truman's death, thus becoming the second U.S. President to die on Boxing Day. It was also St. Stephen's Day. He was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission.
Ford was the longest-lived U.S. President, his lifespan being 45 days longer than Ronald Reagan's. He was the third-longest-lived Vice President, falling short only of John Nance Garner, 98, and Levi P. Morton, 96. Ford had the second-longest post-presidency (29 years and 11 months) after Herbert Hoover (31 years and 7 months). At 29 months and 11 days, Ford's tenure in office was the least time of any 20th Century President.
On November 12, 2006 upon surpassing Ronald Reagan's lifespan, Ford released his last public statement:
The length of one’s days matters less than the love of one’s family and friends. I thank God for the gift of every sunrise and, even more, for all the years He has blessed me with Betty and the children; with our extended family and the friends of a lifetime. That includes countless Americans who, in recent months, have remembered me in their prayers. Your kindness touches me deeply. May God bless you all and may God bless America.
Ford was the only president never elected to be either president or vice-president. The choice of Ford to fulfill Agnew's vacated role as vice president was based on his reputation for openness and honesty. "In all the years I sat in the House, I never knew Mr Ford to make a dishonest statement nor a statement part-true and part-false. He never attempted to shade a statement, and I never heard him utter an unkind word," said Martha Griffiths.
The trust the American people had in him was severely and rapidly tarnished by his pardon of Nixon. Nonetheless, many grant in hindsight that he had respectably discharged with considerable dignity a great responsibility that he had not sought, and that his pardon, though deeply unpopular at the time, was probably the best way to heal the country. His subsequent loss to Carter in 1976 has come to be seen as an honorable sacrifice he made for the nation.
In spite of his athletic record and remarkable career accomplishments, Ford acquired a reputation as a clumsy, likable and simple-minded Everyman. An incident in 1975 when he tripped while exiting the presidential jet in Austria, was famously and repetitively parodied by Chevy Chase, cementing Ford's image as a klutz. Pieces of Ford's common Everyman image have also been attributed to Ford's inevitable comparison to Nixon, as well as his perceived Midwestern stodginess and self-deprecation. Ridicule often extended to supposed intellectual limitations, with Lyndon Johnson once joking, "He's a nice fellow but he spent too much time playing football without a helmet."
Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr., 93, who became the 38th president of the United States as a result of some of the most extraordinary events in U.S. history and sought to restore the nation's confidence in the basic institutions of government, has died. His wife, Betty, reported the death in a statement last night.
"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Betty Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage, Calif. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."
Ford died at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday (PST) at his home in Rancho Mirage, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, his office said. No cause of death was given. Ford had battled pneumonia in January and underwent two heart treatments -- including an angioplasty -- in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Funeral services will take place in Washington and Grand Rapids, Mich., his boyhood home, the Associated Press reported, and public viewings will be held in California, Washington and Grand Rapids. Details had not been announced as of this morning.