Born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in Omaha, Nebraska, he was renamed for his stepfather, following his mother’s divorce and remarriage. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1935, having played center on undefeated football teams in 1932 and 1933. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1941, and served in the Navy in WWII.
Appointed to the Vice-Presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment by Richard Nixon, following Spiro Agnew’s resignation, Ford is the only US President to have served in office without having been elected either President or Vice President. Having died at 93, he holds the record as longest-lived US President, having surpassed Ronald Reagan’s previous record by 6 weeks.
Gerald Ford served in office during a painful period in American history. His administration saw the US withdrawal from Vietnam. His greatest service to the United States was undoubtedly his pardon of Richard Nixon, which mercifully closed the Watergate affair, and spared the country the painful and extended spectacle of the trial of a former president.
The Watergate scandal made the 1976 election most likely unwinnable by a Republican. But Ford’s defeat by Jimmy Carter simply produced the most incompetent and disastrous administration in American history, making inevitable the election of Ronald Reagan.