Vail post office renamed for Ford | VailDaily.com

Vail post office renamed for Ford

Edward Stoner
Vail, CO Colorado

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailySusan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald R. Ford, applauds as a plaque signifying the renaming of the Vail Post Office after her father is unveiled during a ceremony Friday at Donovan Pavillion in West Vail.

VAIL ” Susan Ford Bales stood beside a giant postage stamp that depicted her father, the 38th president. She choked on her words as she spoke to Vail residents, many of whom befriended the Fords over their years visiting here.

“A lot of you have seen me grow up in this town, and I have very many fond memories,” she said.

Bales helped rename the Vail Post Office in honor of her father, President Gerald Ford, who died in December. Ford and his family were longtime homeowners in Vail and Beaver Creek.

From helping Vail secure the 1989 World Ski Championships to running a charity golf tournament to helping build the Beaver Creek Chapel, the Fords’ contributions to the valley were widespread.

Bales read a letter from her mother, Betty. The renaming was a great tribute, Betty Ford wrote. She listed fond memories of Vail ” summer wildflowers, Fourth of July parades, the ski slopes.

“Vail will forever remain in our hearts,” Betty Ford wrote.

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Farrow Hitt, a Vail councilman, recalled how residents would run into Ford around town, at the grocery store or at the movies. He remembered sitting right behind the Fords at a showing of “The First Wives Club.”

“He was laughing at the same stuff I was,” he said.

Tony O’Rourke, executive director of Beaver Creek Resort Company, said Ford was an icon of values that are in short supply in America today.

“He was a person of leadership, action, courage and integrity,” he said.

Dozens attended the ceremony on Friday at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion, from local longtime restaurateurs and hoteliers to part-time resident Jack Kemp, who served with Ford in the U.S. House of Representatives in the early ’70s.

Luc Meyer, who ran Vail’s Left Bank restaurant for 35 years, had fond memories of President Ford, who would come to the restaurant each Christmas Eve. Meyer would prepare jams for President Ford each year, and Meyer once jokingly told him he wanted the jars back.

“From that day, when he came to the Left Bank, he would always bring his empty jars for his jam,” he said.

Beth Slifer, a longtime local resident and a friend of the Fords, said she remembers thinking it might be a problem that she was an ardent Democrat and had worked for Jimmy Carter, who defeated Ford in the 1976 election. It wasn’t, she said.

“We had wonderful, fascinating political conversations,” she said.

She did not see the renaming as closure of Vail’s Ford era.

“It’s a continuation,” she said. “I’m so glad we will have the post office in our community as a reminder for this generation and coming generations of his friendship to Vail.”

President Bush signed the legislation to rename the post office after President Ford in March. The President Ford 41-cent stamp will be available Aug. 31.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.