Remembering Gerald Ford

Friday, December 29, 2006

Growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich., in a Democratic family, I had the pleasure of hearing my father complain about Republican Rep. Gerald R. Ford while my mother would nod in agreement and later secretly pull the "Ford lever" in the voting booth.

That is the way it was in the 5th Congressional District. Many Democrats were closeted Ford supporters, and with good reason. Mr. Ford would try to help all of his constituents, not just those who supported him or needed his assistance during a reelection period.

I quit high school in 1972 but continued working toward my diploma through an adult education program. I invited Mr. Ford to speak to a civics class I was taking, and to my amazement he accepted. He arrived without his staff in tow to feed him answers, and he even drove himself. The students grilled him pretty hard, but he was gracious and well informed. A few days later, I received a handwritten note from him thanking me for inviting him.

I am sure hundreds of others in his district could tell similar stories. He will be greatly missed.




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