The Children of Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford became the President of the United States in a unique way, taking office after President Nixon resigned in 1974. While Ford is known for his time leading the country, his family life, especially his four children, also drew public attention. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Michael, Jack, Steven, and Susan Ford. Each of them has lived a life influenced by their father’s significant role in American politics. Join us as we explore who they are, what they have done, and how they’ve each carved their own paths in life.

Michael Gerald Ford

Michael Gerald Ford, the eldest of Gerald Ford’s children, was born in 1950. Growing up in a politically charged environment, Michael witnessed his father’s rise from congressman to president. This unique backdrop shaped much of his early life and the choices he would make in his career.

Education and Career Path

Michael attended Wake Forest University, where he focused on theology, a choice reflecting his interest in spiritual and ethical issues rather than the political world his father inhabited. After completing his studies, he chose a path that diverged significantly from politics:

  • He became a minister, dedicating his life to serving others.
  • Michael has worked extensively in student affairs at Wake Forest University, impacting many lives through his administrative and pastoral roles.

Personal Life and Current Activities

Michael Ford is known for keeping a relatively low profile compared to other presidential children. He married Gayle Ann Brumbaugh in 1974, and together, they have built a life centered around family and service. Currently, Michael continues his work in education and ministry, focusing on community service and helping others. His commitment to these causes reflects his personal values and the influence of his upbringing in a family committed to public service.

John Gardner “Jack” Ford

John Gardner “Jack” Ford was born in 1952, the second son of Gerald Ford. Jack grew up in the public eye during his father’s ascent from Congressman to President. His formative years were marked by this unique experience, shaping his personality and future endeavors. He attended Utah State University, majoring in forestry, a choice that perhaps reflected a desire for a connection to nature and an escape from the political spotlight.

Media Career and Public Appearances

Jack Ford’s career has been diverse, spanning various roles that leverage his public persona:

  • He has worked as a journalist and has appeared on shows such as “Good Morning America” and various other news programs, discussing topics from politics to environmental issues.
  • His ease in front of the camera and his insightful commentary have made him a respected figure in media circles.

Contributions to Political and Social Causes

Despite his career in the media, Jack has maintained a connection to political and social causes:

  • He has been involved in campaigns and initiatives that focus on environmental conservation, a passion likely influenced by his academic background in forestry.
  • Jack also participates in discussions and panels that address the legacy of his father’s administration, ensuring that Gerald Ford’s contributions to American politics are remembered and understood.

Jack Ford has carved out a unique path for himself, blending his interest in nature with a career that keeps him connected to the public discourse. His work reflects a commitment to both honoring his father’s legacy and pursuing his personal passions.

Steven Meigs Ford

Steven Meigs Ford, the third child of Gerald Ford, was born in 1956. Growing up in the spotlight of his father’s political career, including the pivotal years in the White House, deeply influenced his early life. As a teenager in such a unique environment, Steven developed a blend of respect for public service and a desire for personal independence, which was later reflected in his career choices.

Career in Acting and Entertainment

Choosing a path quite different from politics, Steven Ford pursued a career in acting and entertainment. His involvement in Hollywood offered a stark contrast to the world of political affairs his father navigated:

  • Steven appeared in a number of films and television shows, most notably in “When Harry Met Sally” and the TV series “The Young and the Restless.”
  • His roles often portrayed characters that resonated with his easygoing and approachable nature, making him a beloved figure among fans.

Charitable Activities and Public Service

Despite his career in the entertainment industry, Steven has not strayed far from the values of public service instilled by his family. He actively participates in various charitable endeavors:

  • He has worked with organizations that support veterans and their families, an issue close to the Ford family’s legacy of service.
  • Steven also speaks publicly about his personal battles with alcoholism and recovery, aiming to inspire and help others with similar struggles.

Steven Ford’s life reflects a journey of balancing personal interests with a commitment to community and service, showcasing a different side of the Ford family’s impact on American culture.

Susan Elizabeth Ford

Susan Elizabeth Ford, the youngest child of Gerald Ford, was born in 1957. Growing up, Susan faced the unique challenge of spending her adolescent years in the White House. This experience significantly shaped her perspective and public persona, as she navigated the complexities of teenage life under the intense scrutiny of the public eye.

Career as a Photojournalist and Author

After her time in the White House, Susan pursued a career in photojournalism, a field that allowed her to capture stories through the lens of her camera—perhaps a way to reclaim her narrative from the public gaze. Her work as a photojournalist includes:

  • Covering significant events and personalities, which showcased her keen eye for detail and storytelling.
  • Writing and co-authoring books that give insight into her experiences and the broader context of American politics and history.

Advocacy Work and Public Service

Inspired by her mother, Betty Ford, who was a prominent advocate for breast cancer awareness and women’s health, Susan has also been active in health advocacy. Her efforts include:

  • Serving on the board of the Betty Ford Center, which is dedicated to addiction treatment and recovery.
  • Promoting breast cancer awareness, ensuring that women have access to the necessary information and healthcare services.

Personal Life and Continuing Legacy

Susan married Charles Vance, a former Secret Service agent, although they later divorced. Her personal life, much like her professional endeavors, reflects her commitment to family values and public service—a direct reflection of the upbringing and influence of her parents, particularly her mother’s courage and advocacy.

Contribution to Ford’s Legacy

Susan Ford has played a crucial role in maintaining and promoting her father’s legacy, particularly through her involvement with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. She participates in various events and programs that aim to educate the public about her father’s work and the political history of his time. Through her advocacy, writing, and public engagements, Susan continues to impact issues close to her family’s values, blending personal history with public service.

Family Dynamics

The Ford family dynamics were significantly shaped by Gerald Ford’s unexpected ascent to the presidency. The sudden shift from a congressman’s life to the highest office in the nation brought both opportunities and challenges. The children had to navigate the complexities of public scrutiny while maintaining personal and academic pursuits. This backdrop played a crucial role in shaping their values and future paths.

Roles During and After Ford’s Political Career

Each of the Ford children played distinct roles during their father’s presidency and continued to influence their paths in adulthood:

  • Michael focused on academia and spiritual leadership, providing a grounding presence in the family.
  • Jack engaged more directly with the public through his media career, balancing the visibility that came with his father’s political stature.
  • Steven took a creative route, using his acting career to forge a personal identity away from the political spotlight.
  • Susan leveraged her unique position as a young adult in the White House to pursue interests in journalism and later in health advocacy.

Supporting Each Other

Despite their varied interests and careers, the Ford children supported each other and their parents. Their strong family bonds helped them navigate the pressures of their father’s public role. They often appeared together at public events and maintained close relationships in their adult lives, emphasizing the importance of family unity instilled by their parents.

Legacy and Continuing Bonds

The legacy of Gerald Ford’s values, such as integrity, public service, and humility, is evident in how his children have carried themselves and chosen their paths. The family’s dynamics, marked by mutual respect and support, have allowed each member to pursue their passions while upholding the family’s commitment to service. This cohesive bond continues to define the Ford family, showcasing the enduring influence of their shared experiences during and after their time in the White House.

Legacy of Gerald Ford as Seen Through His Children

Gerald Ford’s legacy, characterized by integrity, dedication to public service, and humility, is vividly reflected in the lives of his children. Each child, while choosing a distinct path, has embodied aspects of their father’s ethos in their personal and professional lives.

  • Michael embraced a life of service through his role as a minister and educator, reflecting his father’s commitment to helping others and ethical leadership.
  • Jack continued to engage with political and social issues through his media career, discussing and advocating for public causes, echoing Gerald’s approach to transparency and public communication.
  • Steven chose the arts as his professional domain but maintained the Ford legacy of service by supporting veteran organizations and sharing his personal struggles to help others.
  • Susan took her experiences from the White House to the fields of journalism and health advocacy, focusing on issues like breast cancer awareness, demonstrating the Ford family’s commitment to community care and public health.

Diverging from Political Roots

While Gerald Ford’s career was steeped in politics, his children have largely steered away from political careers, choosing instead to honor their father’s values through other avenues. This divergence highlights a broader interpretation of legacy—one that transcends direct professional emulation and instead fosters a commitment to personal integrity and societal contribution.

Public Perception and Historical Context

The public perception of Gerald Ford through his children also underscores the personal side of his presidency. The Ford children’s diverse achievements and their commitment to public welfare contribute to a more nuanced understanding of Gerald Ford as not just a political figure but as a family man who deeply influenced his children’s values.

Ongoing Influence

The ongoing influence of Gerald Ford’s presidency through his children’s actions continues to impact American culture and politics. By each contributing positively to society, they collectively enhance and extend their father’s legacy beyond his own achievements, ensuring that his tenure is remembered not only for its political significance but also for its human and ethical dimensions.


The children of Gerald Ford—Michael, Jack, Steven, and Susan—each took unique paths in life, yet all embody the core values of integrity, service, and dedication instilled by their father. Through their diverse careers and charitable endeavors, they continue to honor Gerald Ford’s legacy, influencing various fields and contributing positively to society. Their lives and achievements are a testament to the lasting impact of their upbringing in the Ford family.

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