Former U.S. President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald R. Ford

Former United States President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.) died yesterday at 6.45 pm PST (0345 UTC Wednesday) at his home in Rancho Mirage, California at the age of 93.

Gerald Ford was a prominent politician from Grand Rapids, Michigan before his appointment to the vice-presidency, having served in the United States House of Representatives for 24 years from 1949 to 1973 and acted as Minority Leader. He was appointed Vice President of the United States following the resignation of Spiro Agnew.

Ford was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States following the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 following the Watergate scandal. He served the appointed term and ran an unsuccessful re-election bid for the office of the presidency in 1976 against Jimmy Carter. Ford is the only president to have held the office of the presidency without ever having been elected to either the presidency or the office of the vice-presidency.

Ford's presidency was marked by his pardon of former President Nixon, a controversial move that many felt cost him the 1976 election. Ford also attempted to tackle inflation (at the time, only a modest 7%) with a public relations campaign to "whip inflation now". Ford's presidency also saw the final United States evacuation of South Vietnam.

Once one of the most active former Presidents, in recent years Ford was perceived as becoming increasingly frail, particularly since suffering a small stroke in 2000. For the first time since becoming active in national politics, he did not attend the Republican National Convention in 2004. He also did not attend the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2005 — former President Bill Clinton indicated in an interview with Larry King that Ford was increasingly uncomfortable flying. In 2006, he was hospitalized on four separate occasions by the month of November.

Ford was the longest-lived President in the history of the United States surpassing Ronald Reagan on November 12, 2006; the oldest-living President is now George H. W. Bush. After a state funeral in Washington, D.C., Ford's body will lie in state in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, before a private burial outside the museum.