Gerald Ford with Ham

Gerald Ford with Ham

38th PRESIDENT

NAME: Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. He was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., named after his biological father. He was renamed after his adoptive father, Gerald Rudolph Ford, Sr. He later changed the spelling of his middle name. Except in formal signature, he signed his name Jerry Ford.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Ford stood 6 feet tall and weighed about 195 pounds as president. He had blond hair, which he combed straight back, and small blue eyes.  With age, he retained the trim, muscular figure of his youth. His handsome features were characterized by a square jaw, somewhat fleshy nose, and generous mouth. His broad grin revealed large, straight teeth. Except for weak knees, the result of football injuries, his health generally was sound. Although he took a lot of kidding in the press and from comedians for lack of coordination, he described himself as “the most athletic president to occupy the White House in years.” Ford was a righ-handed sportsman but wrote and ate with his left hand. He dressed sporty.

PERSONALITY: By all accounts, Ford was open, friendly, forthright, honest, and considerate. He appeared to generally like people and, although a more than 30-year veteran of political wars, made remarkably few enemies along the way. “He never in his life tried to outsmart anybody,” observed Bud Vestal, a Grand Rapids reporter and longtime Ford watcher. “But if from intellectual hubris a tormentor gave him a chance, Jerry would outdumb him, swiftly and deadpan. It might be days before the attacker would realize he’d been had.”

PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.

Gerald Ford with Ham

Richard Nixon Jimmy Carter