The Childhood, Education, and Careers of Gerald Ford
On July 14, 1913, Gerald Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King Jr. in Omaha, Nebraska, where his parents and paternal grandparents lived. He was the only child of wool merchants Leslie Lynch King Sr. and Dorothy Ayer Gardner. His father was Charles Henry King, a wealthy banker, and his mother was Martha Alicia King.
Dorothy Gardner and King split up sixteen days after their son was born because of his father’s abusive behavior. She traveled to Oak Park, Illinois, to visit her sister Tannisse and brother-in-law, Clarence Haskins James. She then relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to live with her parents, Levi Addison Gardner and Adele Augusta Ayer. Gardner received full custody of her son after her divorce from King in December 1913. Charles Henry King, Ford’s paternal grandpa, provided child support until he died in 1930.
Dorothy Gardner married Gerald Rudolff Ford on February 1, 1917, after living with her parents for two and a half years. He worked as a salesperson for a family-run paint and varnish business. Gerald Rudolff Ford Jr. was her son’s new name. The future President was never legally adopted and did not legally alter his name until December 3, 1935; he also spelled his middle name differently. His three half-brothers from his mother’s second marriage, Thomas Gardner “Tom” Ford, Richard Addison “Dick” Ford, and James Francis “Jim” Ford, were reared in Grand Rapids with him.
Ford did not learn about his birth father until he was 17, when his parents informed him of his birth circumstances. Ford’s biological father contacted him when he was serving tables in a Grand Rapids restaurant that year, describing him as a “carefree, well-to-do man who does not think about the ambitions and goals of his eldest son.” Until Leslie King Srdeath . was in 1941, the two “kept occasional communication.”
Gerald Ford was a member of the Boy Scouts of America, earning the highest rank in the organization, Eagle Scout. He is the first and only Eagle Scout to become President of the United States.
He grew up to be a physically active young man who captained his football team at Grand Rapids South High School. He was also named to the Grand Rapids City League’s All-City team.
He continued to play football while at the University of Michigan. He was a versatile player for the football team, playing center, linebacker, and long snapper. In addition, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1935.
Despite his talent as a football player, he chose to pursue a legal profession over sports. He entered Yale Law School in 1938 and graduated with an L.L.B. degree in 1941, shortly after which he was admitted to the Michigan bar.
In May 1941, Gerald Ford co-founded a legal firm with a buddy. However, as World War II, which had started in 1939, became more intense, Ford joined the Navy to help his nation.
Gerald Ford was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in June 1942 and Lieutenant in March 1943 while serving in the South Pacific. He worked as the Staff Physical and Military Training Officer for the Naval Reserve Training Command, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois, from April 1945 to January 1946. Gerald was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in October 1945. In June 1946, he resigned from the Naval Reserve.
Gerald Ford married Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Ford, a former dancer and model, in 1948. Betty had been married to and divorced from an abusive man earlier. Gerald and Betty enjoyed a joyful 58-year marriage that ended with Gerald’s death. They were the parents of four children.
He had been involved in politics for a long time and was elected to his first electoral position in 1948 as a Republican congressman from Michigan. He served in Congress from 1949 to 1973, focusing on foreign policy, the military, budget, the space program, and the Warren Commission throughout his 25-year tenure.
Vice President Spiro Agnew was investigated in 1973 after criminal allegations of tax evasion and money laundering were brought against him. On October 10, 1973, he resigned from his job as a result of his disgrace.
Under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, President Richard Nixon nominated Gerald Ford as the new vice president. Ford had a reputation for being a straight shooter, and his clean image helped him win the nomination. On December 6, 1973, Ford was sworn in as the 40th Vice President of the United States.
Evidence of President Nixon’s participation in the historic Watergate crisis began to surface in mid-1974, prompting the President to resign on August 8, 1974. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States the next day, August 9, 1974.
Ford ascended to power at a turbulent period in American politics. He established a conditional amnesty scheme for people who dodged the draft or deserted during the Vietnam War shortly after taking office. He gave former President Richard Nixon a presidential pardon for his part in the Watergate affair in a controversial action.
At the time, the U.S. economy was at an all-time low. The rate of inflation and unemployment were both rising, and the economy was in a downturn. To curb inflation, he established the Economic Policy Board by Executive Order on September 30, 1974.
During his presidency, Gerald Ford was the target of two assassination attempts. In both incidents, the assailants were apprehended and put into jail before they could damage him.
Gerald Ford lived a long life, dying on December 26, 2006, at 93 years and 165 days, making him the United States’ longest-serving President. During his final days, he battled arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular illness and widespread arteriosclerosis.