April 18, 2018

Passing of President Ford Means New Attention at Two Libraries

By LJ Staff

The December 26 death of President Gerald R. Ford, the country’s 38th president – known for his steady hand in post-Watergate days and his controversial pardon of predecessor Richard M. Nixon – reverberated especially at two libraries associated with him. A University of Michigan alumnus, Ford placed his presidential library, as well as supported the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, on the Ann Arbor campus. The Gerald R. Ford Library began extended hours, with its lobby open until 7:30 pm daily, for a week beginning yesterday. The flags are flying at half staff, and employees had to transform the look of the building from holiday spirits to mourning, according to the Detroit Free Press. In Rancho Mirage, the Southern California town where Ford died, the city put a "Book of Memories" at the Rancho Mirage Library so members of the public can reflect on the departed president, according to the Desert Sun. After visitors contribute to the book over the course of a month, it will be presented to Ford’s family, including widow Betty Ford. The library displays a life-sized bust of Gerald Ford.

While most presidential libraries also include a museum, the Ford Library, which opened in 1981 and contains many of his documents, is separate from the Ford Museum, located in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. Said Elaine K. Didier, director of the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, "He wanted both the Library and the Museum to have vibrant educational programs, and he delighted in the thousands of archival research visits made by University of Michigan students and other scholars over the years. President Ford was passionate about promoting the dignity and duty of public service, and encouraging civility and substance in public affairs debate."