We woke to an overcast day with temperatures in the high 50os and almost no humidity.
Our first destination was the University of Michigan’s main campus in Ann Arbor to visit the
As with the four presidential libraries we’ve visited in the past, we had anticipated the presidential museum would be there too. Thus, we were surprised to discover that other than the library (where President Ford’s papers are housed) only a small, satellite museum in located in Ann Arbor… the main museum being housed in Grand Rapids, where President Ford grew up. The good news is that Grand Rapids is on our schedule for mid-to-late August.
However, the exhibits which were there were on display … covered aspects of both Gerald and Betty Ford’s lives as well as highlighting a few important events in Ford’s presidency.
Betty Ford’s life was also highlighted … including from Ford’s 1976 reelection campaign.
Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, NE to Leslie and Dorothy King.
However, the Kings divorced just five months and Dorothy subsequently married Dorothy married Gerald Rudolff Ford, a salesman in a family-owned paint and varnish company. They then called her son Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr.
His exploits at the University of Michigan are highlighted as was his going to Yale as a football coach and law student (having turned down a chance to play for the Green Bay Packers),
His Naval career during World War II and his marriage to Elizabeth (Betty) Bloomer Warren.
Ford’s most controversial decisions are also addressed … the pardoning of his predecessor, Richard Nixon,
his decision to evacuate American troops from Saigon ending our involvement in Viet Nam … and the tributes paid to him for “healing the nation” by his successor, President Carter and others.
From Ann Arbor, we drove the six miles to the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Museum in Saline. Aside from being one of the area’s most popular attractions, it provides a hands-on University and community laboratory for conserving, restoring, and celebrating the environment.
Gerald Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. He lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.
Our timing was excellent as nearly everything was in bloom, including an 80 year old Agave,
a monocarpic, frequently referred to as a “century plant”, it lives a longtime but blooms only once, set its seeds
and die. This particular plant has put on such height that panes of glass had to be removed from the conservatory’s roof.
Among the hundreds of plants on display in the conservatory and populating the outdoor gardens …
Where you find flowers … you will also discover insects.