New York Times:
After a decade of division over Vietnam and two years of trauma over the Watergate scandal, Jerry Ford, as he called himself, radiated a soothing familiarity. He might have been the nice guy down the street suddenly put in charge of the nation, and if he seemed a bit predictable, he was also safe, reliable and reassuring. He placed no intolerable intellectual or psychological burdens on a weary land, and he lived out a modest philosophy. “The harder you work, the luckier you are,” he said once in summarizing his career. “I worked like hell.”
Gerald Rudolph Ford was born on July 14, 1913, in Omaha to Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer King. He rose to House minority leader in 1963 and served in the House until 1973, when Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned, and President Nixon appointed Mr. Ford to succeed Mr. Agnew.
When Mr. Ford took the oath of president in 1974, the economy was in disarray, an energy shortage was worsening, allies were wondering how steadfast the United States might be as a partner and Mr. Nixon, having resigned rather than face impeachment for taking part in the Watergate cover-up, was flying to seclusion in San Clemente, Calif.
There was a collective sense of relief as Mr. Ford, in the most memorable line of his most noteworthy speech, declared that day, “Our long national nightmare is over.”
White House photograph courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library / David Hume Kennerly
President Ford at work in the Oval Office in 1975.