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Former President Gerald Ford Passes Away At The Age Of 93

Updated January 2nd, 5:00 pm:

I have been able to watch much of the coverage of the national day of mourning for President Gerald Ford. This morning I received an email from the Delta Kappa Epsilon (Deke or DKE) fraternity headquarters with this link, Brother Gerald R. Ford, Jr., Omicron '35 Remembered.


It goes to a lengthy article written by a few of President Ford’s Deke classmates. While a little long it has great insight into the student, the lawyer, the congressman and the president. Some great stories and an inside look into the president as a younger man.


Original Post:

I was a young kid when Gerald R Ford went from Speaker of the House to President of the United States and so I remember very little if anything of Spiro Agnew, Watergate, and Richard Nixon.


I have always had a fascination with the history of our presidents. Not so much of their presidency itself but what led them to it and what they do after they leave office. The work they do and the way they are remembered.


President Ford was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (Deke) fraternity at the University of Michigan. As a student at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Deke fraternity I had a lot of interest in learning the history of the fraternity.


Gerald Ford was actually born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. His parents went their separate ways before he was born. At the age of two his mother married Gerald Ford and the son who would later become president took his name although he was never adopted. If I remember correctly he did change the spelling of his middle name.


He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After a full high school career of sports and academics he was accepted at the University of Michigan. Where like in high school he excelled both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.


He was initiated into the Deke fraternity and in order to pay for room, board, books and tuition was the kitchen steward at the fraternity. A position that came with a stipend and this helped him pay for school.


He was also a member of the Interfraternity Council, Student Council, Sphinx (an honor society for men in the junior class) and Michagamua (an honor society for men in the senior class).


I have seen a few pictures the Michigan Deke chapter has of the then college student. He was a stud. He had a reputation for being a well-mannered, hard working, good guy.


This evening I have heard many of the “talking heads” say he was an All America football player for the Wolverines. I think they are incorrect. Not that it really matters.


He did play center and linebacker. He was named team MVP for his play at the center position and played in two All-Star games. He was offered a NFL contract after graduating. Instead he went to Yale University Law School.


The fraternity headquarters, The Shant, is located in Ann Arbor and the library is named the Gerald R Ford Library. He had been a strong supporter of the group throughout his years.


In the ‘90s the fraternity published a book, “A Century and a Half of DKE” and in the introduction of the book Gerald Ford wrote,

"I prize my experiences at the Deke house in Ann Arbor, and on the University of Michigan campus. The friendships I made there and later with Delta Kappa Epsilon Brothers from around the continent have served me well."

Gerald Ford came from a rather modest Midwest beginning. He was not born into a rich family or one that was “connected”. He worked hard through his life and was committed to public service. He may have been the accidental president but he may very well have been the right guy at the right time.


His life story is truly amazing.


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