President Gerald R. Ford wasn’t actually born in Grand Rapids, but since his mother moved here when he was just two weeks old, the city has always claimed him as a native son. Ford never quibbled with that assertion – he loved Grand Rapids.
Case in point: Ford’s 1941 law degree from Yale University would have given him entry to the finest law firms in the nation’s largest cities. Instead, he chose to return to Grand Rapids to practice law. He went on to serve the city and its region for 13 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before his ascension to the Presidency in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Today, Grand Rapids continues to honor the lives of Gerald Ford and his wife Betty (who also grew up here). The Gerald R. Ford International Airport and Gerald R. Ford Freeway (I-196) are daily reminders of their influence. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is a spectacular exploration of their lives and times. The President and First Lady are buried on the grounds of the Museum, in a quiet site that invites visitation and reflection.