Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

303 Pearl St NW Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Culture Pass/Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
Experience Grand Rapids
Written By Experience Grand Rapids

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Remembering Michigan's President

Gerald Ford was born in Nebraska, but he moved to Grand Rapids with his mother when he was young and spent most of his childhood here. He studied economics and played football at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor before heading off to law school at Yale.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum features a permanent exhibit that highlights the lives of President and Mrs. Ford's lives before, during and after their time in the White House. In addition to that, the museum has both temporary and online exhibits that bring in stories and artifacts from across the nation. Most of the museum's exhibits were redesigned in 2016 and offer an immersive experience. Check out this video made by the museum:

Did you know?

In college, Ford was involved in a controversy when the Georgia Tech football team refused to play against Michigan unless their one African American player, Willis Ward, sat out. The two players were good friends and had been roommates, and Ford initially threatened to quit the team if Ward did not play. In the end, Ward urged Ford to play anyway for the good of the team. Although Willis Ward did not play against Georgia Tech, he went one of the top athletes in the school's history.

Ford went on to serve in the US House of Representatives. He was the Minority Leader in 1973 when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned, and President Nixon nominated Ford as Vice President. When Nixon resigned in 1974, Ford became president until Jimmy Carter succeeded him in 1977. That makes Ford the shortest-serving president, and also the only person to serve as both president and vice president without being elected to either post.

He is remembered for working to reduce hostilities between the US and USSR, and for his decision to grant a presidential pardon to Nixon. His wife, Betty Ford, is remembered as an outspoken First Lady who was a leader in the women's movement both during and after her husband's presidency.

Both President and Mrs. Ford are buried here at the Ford Museum, which contains exhibits and interactive activities that honor their memories. Highlights include a full-sized replica of the Oval Office as it looked in Ford's time, where visitors can sit on the vintage 70s furniture and imagine themselves as the next US president.

Cover photo credit: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

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Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

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