Gerald R. Ford |

Gerald R. Ford

Tamara Miller
Vail Trail file photoFormer President Gerald Ford and Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz celebrated Vail's 40th anniversary in 2002.

Gerald R. Ford was our nation’s 38th president, the successor to the scandal-plagued Richard Nixon presidency.

His short, two-and-a-half-year presidency will be most remembered by footnotes. He pardoned Nixon, saving the man from a criminal trial and arguably costing Ford his political future. He was the only president who never was elected president or vice president.

Ford may not go down in history books as America’s most notable president. But he was Vail’s most notable friend.

Ford died Tuesday evening at the age of 93. He is survived by his four children and his wife, Betty.

He also is survived by an enduring legacy in the Vail Valley. Ford began visiting Vail in the 1960s when he was a Michigan representative. His love affair with the Vail Valley continued through his presidency and after he left office.

Ford is credited with putting Vail “on the map.” And for good reason. He and Betty were part-time Beaver Creek residents. Ford helped bring the World Forum, a conservative workshop that brings in the likes of Dick Cheney, to the valley. The Jerry Ford Golf Invitational lured celebrities like Bob Hope to Vail in the early days. The couple’s help in bringing the arts to the valley, earned them long-lasting tributes: The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Ford Amphitheatre, both in Vail.

While most of the world has a mental picture of a presidential Ford in a suit, standing before a podium, most of our pictures are of the everyday Ford in a ski suit, with a golf club in hand, or relaxing with friends and family.

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