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America Mourns Gerald Ford

27 December 2006

Current and former officials remember 38th president with praise, affection

Washington – Across the United States, messages of sympathy and fond remembrance followed the death of Gerald Ford, the nation’s 38th president.

Ford died in California December 26 at the age of 93. (See related article.)

Among the many Americans recalling him with praise and affection are figures who served in Ford’s administration. A confident leader who did not fear being upstaged by subordinates, Ford surrounded himself with many promising figures whose careers would carry them to higher office.

“Americans will always admire Gerald Ford's unflinching performance of duty and the honorable conduct of his administration, and the great rectitude of the man himself,” said President George W. Bush, whose father served in Ford’s administration. “We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our 38th President will always have a special place in our nation's memory.”

Vice President Cheney, who served as Ford’s chief of staff, described Ford as a "dear friend and mentor to me until this very day. ... Gerald Ford embodied the best values of a great generation: decency, integrity, and devotion to duty." In a December 26 statement, Cheney praised Ford for bringing strength, wisdom and good judgment to the presidency at a time of constitutional crisis, and for leaving office with the nation’s confidence and faith restored.

Former Bush administration Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also served as secretary of defense in Ford’s Cabinet. Rumsfeld remembered the late president as a patriot who led the United States through difficult days and helped restore confidence in its government.

"President Ford was a man of great decency and towering integrity," Rumsfeld said in a written statement released December 27.

Alexander Haig, who served both Ford and President Ronald Reagan as chief of staff, and later also served Reagan as secretary of state, said Ford "had to bring our country back [following President Richard Nixon’s resignation] and make it whole again and he did it with dignity, he did it with great, great skill and sensitivity."

Alan Greenspan served as Ford's chief White House economic adviser before being appointed to the Federal Reserve Board by President Reagan. "Jerry Ford was the most decent man I ever encountered in public life,'' he said on learning of Ford’s death. "His reputation has risen year by year since he left office.''

Former presidents and their surviving relatives are among those praising Ford's character and dedication.

Patricia Nixon Cox, daughter of the 37th U.S. president, Richard Nixon, recalled her father's "deep respect for Gerald Ford as an honorable and dedicated public servant."

Jimmy Carter, Ford’s 1976 electoral opponent and the 39th president, called Ford "a man of the highest integrity" and "an outstanding statesman ... who frequently rose above politics." Carter’s 1977 inaugural speech began with unstinting praise for Ford, the candidate he had defeated -- an unprecedented beginning for a new president’s term.

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president, challenged Ford for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination and briefly considered Ford as his running mate in 1980. His widow, Nancy Reagan, praised Ford as a "dear friend and close political ally" whose "accomplishments and devotion to our country are vast."

President George H.W. Bush, who served as both Ford’s chief diplomat in China and then as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, called Ford "one of the most decent and capable men I ever met." In a joint statement, former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton recalled that Ford "brought Americans together during a difficult chapter in our history with strength, integrity, and humility. … All Americans should be grateful for his life of service."

Funeral arrangements for President Gerald R. Ford will be announced at the Gerald Ford Memorial Web site.

The full text of Cheney’s statement and a transcript of President George W. Bush’s remarks on December 27 are available on the White House Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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