The 38th president of the United States, former University of Michigan football player and graduate, and almost Detroit Lions player Gerald Ford died last evening at the age of 93. Gerald Ford was known best for being the only president to never be elected and also for taking over the presidency during one of the country's biggest political scandals.
Ford was born on July 14, 1913, in Nebraska as Leslie King, but his parents were divorced less than a year later and he moved to Grand Rapids. Once in Michigan, his mother married Gerald Ford Sr., who adopted and named King after himself as what we know him today, Gerald Ford Jr.
Growing up in Michigan, Ford went on to play football at the University of Michigan. At Michigan, Ford was not only apart of the 1932 and 1933 national championship teams, but at the same time was a standout center that had professional offers. After graduating from Michigan, Ford had a few choices. He was offered a contract to play in the NFL by the Green Bay Packers and our own Detroit Lions. Ford turned down both deals and went to Yale law school instead.
From then on, Ford would be greatly involved in the political world, eventually ending up in Washington D.C. as America's president. Following the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford took over. Ford was originally picked as vice-president after Spiro Agnew resigned earlier. Soon after taking office, Gerald Ford would be surrounded in the center of controversy as he pardoned President Nixon, which lifted all potential crimes while Nixon served as president.
Gerald Ford was by far the most athletic president in this country's history even aside from his football days at Michigan. Whether it was swimming, golfing, or just athletics in general, you could always find Gerald Ford being involved in something sports-related. That would long live in his glory following his days as president.
Facing adversity was nothing new to President Ford. Twice in the span of a few weeks Ford was nearly assassinated by two different women. Each left him rattled but he didn't deter.
As the end of his presidency approached, Ford tried to run for commander-in-chief in 1976, but lost to Jimmy Carter as the pardoning of Richard Nixon continued to loom over him. Ford still was involved in politics after that, just not as vigorously.
In more recent memory, President Ford had his #48 jersey retired at the University of Michigan, something that only a select group can boast. There were buildings on Michigan's campus named after him and in other places around the country also.
In the last few years, Gerald Ford was rarely seen in the public eye as his health declined. Earlier this year he was in the hospital for 12 days due to suffering from pneumonia. Also, just months ago in August he had a pacemaker implanted and also underwent an angioplasty.
Gerald Ford's death comes after he outlived Ronald Reagan by about a month as the longest living president in this country's history.
Ford will long be remembered by the American people as a great football player that nearly was on the Lions, a president that faced the rebuilding of a country after one of the worst scandals ever, someone who was able to laugh off his own clumsiness, a great athlete in general, and finally, an honest and grateful man that will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Mr. Ford, and thanks for all that you did.