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Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Miragemarker, Californiamarker, at 6:45 p.m. local time (02:45, December 27, UTC). At 8:49 p.m. local time, President Ford's wife of 58 years, Betty Ford, issued a statement that confirmed his death: "My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age. His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country." The causes of death listed on the subsequent death certificate were arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis. President Ford's body was taken to Eisenhower Medical Centermarker where it remained until the start of State Funeral Services on December 29.

Tributes from world leaders

Upon Ford's death, President George W. Bush said in a written statement:

There were also tributes from other American, including the living former American presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, as well as Ford's former Chief of Staff, Vice President Dick Cheney and former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Foreign leaders who paid tribute included Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Czech President Václav Klaus and German President Horst Köhler. Harper advised Governor General Michaëlle Jean to order all flag across Canada flown to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on January 2, 2007, in sympathy with the USA's national day of mourning. In Great Britain, the Union Flag at Buckingham Palacemarker was flown at half-staff on December 28.

Funeral Arrangements

A detailed compilation of the State Funeral services and ceremonies and the Congressional tributes to President Ford was prepared by the U.S. Congress in May, 2008 and is available online at: [407210] or at [407211]

Gregory Willard, President Ford's personal attorney and former White House aide, was responsible for the overall planning and conduct of the state funeral as President and Mrs. Ford and the Ford family's designated personal representative. The Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR)/Military District of Washington (MDW), which oversees the military and ceremonial portions of state funerals, assisted President Ford and the Ford family in development of the funeral plans.

Army Major General Guy C. Swan III, Commanding General of the MDW (CG MDW) and JFHQ-NCR, was Betty Ford's official escort throughout the State Funeral. The MDW civilian liaison for the Ford family was Michael D. Wagner, Chief, State Funeral Plans and Operations, at MDW. Mr. Wagner also provided advice to President and Mrs. Ford and the Ford family in planning the state funeral and accompanied the family throughout the state funeral.

The schedule for the state funeral was announced at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon December 27 in Palm Desert, California. The briefing was conducted by Gregory Willard. The briefing was also attended by Barbara Owens, spokesperson for MDW, and by the Riverside County Sheriff. A personal statement from Mrs. Betty Ford was read by Mr. Willard, and he announced details and answered media questions regarding the state funeral.

President and Mrs. Ford and their family previously chose to have the state funeral and related services conducted in three phases (Palm Desert, California; Washington, DC; Grand Rapids, Michiganmarker), with interment in a previously selected hillside crypt next to the Gerald R.marker Ford Presidential Museummarker, in Grand Rapids, Michiganmarker. The services and ceremonies were conducted from December 29 through January 3. A large number of tributes and symbolic remembrances during the three phases highlighted President Ford's career of public service and his unique place in American history.

Columnist Peggy Noonan summarized the Nation's heartfelt farewell, "Ford's was the most human of presidential funerals. Maybe because the Fords wanted so little done, so insisted on modesty, all that was done was genuine and sincere, and perfect."

The state funeral service took place at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, December 30, 2006, with further funeral services on January 2 at Washington National Cathedralmarker and on January 3 at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids. In addition, private services were conducted with Mrs. Ford and the family at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California, and at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mrs. Ford and her family also received approximately 300 invited guests at a December 29 visitation at St. Margaret's Church.

As a mark of honor, Ford's Casket was flown to Washington, and then on to Grand Rapids aboard the VC-25A Presidential Aircraft (29000), which normally serves as Air Force One. The hearse used to carry President Ford's casket flew the American Flag and had the Presidential Seal affixed to the sides.

Upon the death of Ford, the nation's flags were ordered flown at half staff for 30 days after the death. President George W. Bush declared a national day of mourning for President Ford on Tuesday, January 2, 2007, to mark the funeral service.

There were twenty honorary pallbearers for the services and ceremonies in Washington, D.C., and thirteen honorary pallbearers in Grand Rapids.

  • Martin J. Allen, Jr., Chairman Emeritus, Gerald R. Ford Foundation;
  • James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury; President Ford’s Under Secretary of Commerce and Presidential Campaign National Chairman;
  • Robert E. Barrett, President Ford’s White House Army Aide;
  • James Cannon, President Ford’s White House Domestic Policy Advisor; author, Time And Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment With History;
  • Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Express Company;
  • Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States; former Secretary of Defense; President Ford’s White House Chief of Staff;
  • Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Michigan;
  • William T. Coleman, Jr., President Ford’s Secretary of Transportation;
  • Richard M. DeVos, Co-founder of Amway Corporation;
  • Robert J. Dole, Former U.S. Senator; President Ford’s Vice Presidential running mate;
  • Richard A. Ford, Brother of President Ford;
  • David G. Frey, Philanthropist and bank executive with JPMorgan Chase Bank;
  • Pepi Gramshammer, Member of original founders group – Vail, Colorado; former member, Austrian National Ski Team;
  • Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Chairman, President Ford’s Council of Economic Advisors;
  • Robert T. Hartmann, White House Counsellor to President Ford;
  • Carla A. Hills, President Ford’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;
  • Robert L. Hooker, Philanthropist and retired business executive;
  • Henry A. Kissinger, President Ford’s Secretary of State and National Security Advisor;
  • John O. Marsh, White House Counsellor to President Ford;
  • Frederick G. H. Meijer, Chairman Emeritus, Meijer, Inc.;
  • Jack Nicklaus, Professional Golfer; Chairman, Nicklaus Design;
  • Paul H. O’Neill, Former Secretary of the Treasury; Deputy Director, President Ford’s Office of Management and Budget;
  • Leon W. Parma, President, Parma Management Co., Inc.;
  • Donald H. Rumsfeld, President Ford’s White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense;
  • Brent Scowcroft, President Ford’s National Security Advisor;
  • Peter Secchia, Retired Businessman;
  • L. William Seidman, President Ford’s White House Assistant for Economic Policy;
  • Steve Van Andel, Chairman, Alticor Inc.;
  • Sanford I. Weill, Chairman Emeritus, Citigroup Inc.;
  • Frank G. Zarb, Administrator of President Ford’s Federal Energy Administration;
  • Glenn “Bo” Schembechler (In memoriam), former Head Football Coach, University of Michiganmarker.

Richard DeVos, Richard Ford, and Martin J. Allen, Jr. were honorary pallbearers in both Washington and Grand Rapids and traveled with the Ford family aboard the Presidential Aircraft from Washington to Grand Rapids.

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn accompanied Mrs. Ford and the Ford family aboard the Presidential Aircraft from Washington, DC to Grand Rapids. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Ford White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joined the Ford family in Grand Rapidsmarker for the funeral service at Grace Episcopal Church and for the subsequent interment. At the conclusion of the Interment Service, Vice President Cheney presented the American flag to Betty Ford.

Several elements of the state funeral paid tribute to Ford's service in the Navy during World War II. They included a member of the Navy bearing the presidential flag, the Navy Hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save", a Navy rifle team firing three volleys, and a Navy bugler blowing "Taps", a boatswain's mate sounding "Pipe The Side" at the World War II Memorial, the Chaplain of the Navy reading the Prayers during the Funeral Service at the National Cathedral, and female graduates of the U.S.marker Naval Academymarker gathering at the ceremonial pause at the World War II Memorial to pay tribute to President Ford's signing of the legislation to admit women to the Naval Academy.

Security measures

The Department of Homeland Securitymarker (DHS) designated the Washington phase of the state funeral as a National Special Security Event (NSSE).

Events in California

On December 29, 2006, the casket was transported by motorcade from Eisenhower Medical Centermarker to St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California. Mrs. Ford and the family proceeded to the porch of St. Margaret's from where they viewed the arrival ceremony. Mrs. Ford was accompanied on the porch by General Guy Swan, her children and their spouses. Opposite them on the porch were President and Mrs. Ford's seven grandchildren, and their spouses, and two of their four great-granddaughters. The arrival ceremony included musical honors by a Marine Band from Twentynine Palms Marine Basemarker. The casket was carried into the church, where Mrs. Ford and family members attended a private prayer service inside. Following the prayer service, Mrs. Ford and the family had a period of private time alone in the church. Thereafter, long-time staff members of President Ford, including Ms. Penny Circle, Ms. Ann Cullen, Mr. Lee Simmons, and Mr. David Hume Kennerly, were escorted by Gregory Willard to pay their respects at the casket. Beginning at 1:20 p.m., Mrs. Ford and the family received several hundred invited friends and guests until 3:10 p.m. After the visitation, Mrs. Ford and the family returned to the Ford residence in Rancho Mirage, California, and members of President and Mrs. Ford's U.S. Secret Service detail and their families, together with local law enforcement and government officials, were invited to pay their respects privately at the casket. The casket was then moved onto the altar at St. Margaret's, and a period of public repose commenced at 4:20 p.m. PST. The public repose continued until the following morning. Due to the extremely large crowds who wished to pay their respects to President Ford, the public was directed to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardenmarker, from where they were transported by shuttle buses to and from the public repose at St. Margaret's Church. Each person attending the repose was presented a special tribute card on behalf of Mrs. Ford and the family. During the repose, some family members returned to St. Margaret's and greeted and thanked several thousand of the guests for their tributes and condolences.

The public repose concluded at approximately 8:00 a.m. on December 30, 2006. At 8:45 a.m. Mrs. Ford and her family returned to St. Margaret's Church, where a Departure Ceremony was conducted. President Ford's casket was then transported by motorcade to Palm Springs International Airportmarker, where large crowds had gathered to pay tribute to President Ford and say farewell. Following a departure ceremony at the airport that included musical honors and a 21-gun salute by a cannon battery from 3rd Battalion 11th Marines, the casket was loaded onto Air Force One at approximately 9:55 a.m. The aircraft departed shortly thereafter en route to Washington, D.C.marker.

Events in Washington

The events in Washington, D.C., began on December 30, 2006, when Ford's body, flown aboard the Presidential VC-25A SAM 29000 Boeing 747, arrived at Andrews Air Force Basemarker that evening. From there, it was driven by hearse in a simple procession, passing through Alexandria, Virginiamarker, to pay tribute to where he lived when in the House, into the capital city, pausing by the National World War II Memorialmarker to pay tribute to his service as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy during World War II, and onto Capitol Hillmarker. At the World War II Memorial, Eagle Scouts stood along the street for a short distance, in honor of President Ford's status as an Eagle Scout.

Hearse with Ford's body pauses at the World War II Memorial
Female alumnae of United States Military Academies joined in an elongated salute in tribute to Ford. Ford signed legislation in 1976 that allowed women to attend the Military Academies.

President Ford's family honored his wishes to have details of his funeral made as simple as possible. As such, a hearse was utilized en route to the Capitol, rather than having the sometimes utilized horse-drawn caisson.

Capitol Hill events

Upon arrival at the Capitolmarker and in an unprecedented historical tribute to President Ford's distinction as the President who served the longest in the House of Representatives, the casket was carried up the east House Steps and then placed in repose just outside the main doors to the House Chamber. The casket remained there for a brief period of repose throughout which, in another unprecedented tribute to President Ford, the doors to the House Chamber were opened and the House Chamber was lit during the period of Repose. The casket was then carried through Statuary Hall to the Rotunda to lie in state on Abraham Lincoln's catafalque.

The Rev. Daniel Coughlin, the House of Representatives' chaplain, gave the invocation. Eulogies were delivered by Senate President pro tempore Ted Stevens, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Vice President Dick Cheney. The service was briefly interrupted when one of the mourners, former U.S. Congressman William Broomfield collapsed from exhaustion.

After the eulogies, the eulogists laid a wreath, the Rev. Barry Black, Senate chaplain gave the benediction. The dignitaries, which included members of the United States Congress, the United States Supreme Courtmarker, and members of the diplomatic corps and others, paid their respects during the next half hour.

Public viewing

The doors were opened to the public after the dignitaries filed by. The Capitol Rotunda remained open until midnight EST.

Viewing continued through Sunday, December 31 and Monday, January 1. People visited the rotunda at a rate of 2,500 an hour. Members of the Ford family were on hand in the Rotunda to receive the public who came to pay their respects.

President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, visited the Rotunda after coming back from Crawford, Texasmarker and paid their respects, as did former Presidents Carter, Bush, Clinton and their respective spouses. In all, about 50,000 people paid their respects to Ford in the Rotunda.

The Capitol Rotunda closed early on Tuesday morning, January 2, 2007 to allow preparations for the second half of the Washington ceremonies, which were held in Washington's National Cathedralmarker. In an unprecedented tribute, Ford's casket was taken from the Rotunda to Senate side of the Capitolmarker where he laid in repose for a short period, in tribute to his service as Vice President (who serves as President of the Senate by direction of the Constitution). The hymn Abide With Me was played as Ford's casket was carried down the Senate steps to a waiting hearse for the trip to the National Cathedralmarker for a mid-morning service. As the cortège moved from the Capitol to the Cathedral, the carillon's bells tolled 38 times to honor the thirty-eighth president.

National funeral service

Funeral of President Ford in the National Cathedral.

As the casket was removed from the hearse, the U.S. Coast Guard Band played Hail to the Chief and Nearer, My God, to Thee.

The service in the National Cathedralmarker was officially entitled, "In Celebration of and Thanksgiving for the Life of GERALD RUDOLPH FORD, 1913-2006."


Service music was provided by the cathedral organists; the United States Marine Orchestra; Armed Forces Chorus; Cathedral Choirs of Men, Boys and Girls; and opera soloist Denyce Graves. The congregation sang the hymn, "For All the Saints". All selections had been chosen by President and Mrs. Ford while planning the service. Musical selections chosen by the Fords are included below as a footnote.

Readings and eulogies

Ford was eulogized by former President George H.W. Bush (director of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing and Director of the CIA in the Ford Administration), Dr. Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State in the Ford Administration), former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw (NBC White House correspondent during the Ford Administration), and by President George W. Bush. The homily (sermon) was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain, the Fords' pastor in Palm Desert, Californiamarker. Scripture was read by President Ford's son, John Ford, and daughter, Susan Ford Bales.


All living presidents and their spouses (Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush) attended the funeral, as well as former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson who was unable to attend because of poor health and mobility problems, was represented by her daughter Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, at Ford's funeral. Also attending were presidential children Tricia Nixon Cox, Doro Bush Koch, and Chelsea Clinton. Near the altar of the Cathedral just prior to the funeral service, President and Mrs. Ford's son-in-law, Vaden Bales, greeted Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ford, and thanked Justice Stevens on behalf of Mrs. Ford and the Ford family for his distinguished service on the Court. Also seated with the Ford family were Mrs. Happy Rockefeller and her son, Nelson Rockefeller, Jr., as well as Senator John Warner and his wife, Jeanne.

At the conclusion of the service, Vice President Cheney accompanied the casket from the altar, and President George W. Bush and Steven Ford escorted Mrs. Ford to the cathedral narthex.

Events in Grand Rapids

President Ford's Tomb located in the grounds of his Museum.

Following the service in the Washington National Cathedralmarker, Ford's body was taken to Andrews Air Force Basemarker on January 2 for a flight to the Gerald R.marker Ford International Airportmarker in Grand Rapids, Michiganmarker on SAM 29000, one of the two VC-25A aircraft which currently serves as Air Force One. En route the plane descended to very low altitude and flew over Ford's alma mater, the University of Michiganmarker and Michigan Stadiummarker in Ann Arbormarker, where Ford played as captain of Michigan's college football team in 1932–1934.

Upon arrival in Grand Rapids, the University of Michigan Marching Band played Ruffles and Flourishes, Hail to the Chief, Michigan's Alma Mater "The Yellow and Blue", and Michigan's fight song The Victors, and a 21-gun salute was rendered as President Ford's body was transferred from the aircraft to the waiting hearse. President Ford's remains were then taken by motorcade to the Gerald R.marker Ford Presidential Museummarker in Grand Rapids. A private service was conducted in the Museum. The presidents of the University of Michiganmarker and Yale Universitymarker, representing President Ford's college and law school education, laid wreaths, the mayor of Grand Rapidsmarker gave the invocation, and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Martin J. Allen, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, spoke. "Shall We Gather At The River" was sung by The Army Chorus, and prayers were offered by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. Also present for the service were the four remaining members of the 30/30 Club, consisting of President Ford's championship high school football team.

On Tuesday night (January 2), President Ford's casket lay in repose in the lobby of the museum where an estimated 67,000 mourners, despite the cold winter temperatures, stood in line for up to 6 hours in order to pay their respects to his casket. Several of President and Mrs. Ford's children and grandchildren came to the museum that night and greeted mourners for several hours.

Shortly after noon on January 3, the casket was taken from the museum to Grace Episcopal Church by motorcade, and a funeral service was conducted at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapidsmarker. Along the entire motorcade route to the church, thousands of people gathered to say farewell and pay their respects.

During the service, eulogies were delivered by Donald Rumsfeld (President Ford's White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense), President Jimmy Carter, Richard Norton Smith (former Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum and a close personal friend of President Ford)President Bush, and Vice President Cheney. [407212] Prayers were offered by Sarah Ford Goodfellow, Tyne Vance Berlanga, and Christian Gerald Ford, grandchildren of President and Mrs. Ford. The Army Chorus sang "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic" and a solo of "On Eagle's Wings" sung by Sergeant First Class Alvy Powell. One pew was draped with a University of Michigan stadium blanket in honor of legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, who was to be an honorary pallbearer for President Ford but died two months earlier.

After the church service, President Ford's remains were transported back to the museum and carried to the burial spot on a hillside just north of the museum. A small group of invited friends joined Mrs. Ford and the family at the Interment Service, including Vice President and Mrs. Richard Cheney, President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, former Secretary and Mrs. Rumsfeld, Ann Cullen, Len Nurmi, Penny Circle, Richard Norton Smith, Gregory Willard, Ann Willard, and Ms. Lilian Fisher. The 126th Army Band from the National Guard Unit based in Wyoming, Michiganmarker performed during the Interment Service. A 21-gun salute was completed by the 119th Field Artillery Regiment, the only such unit in the state of Michigan. After the salute, a benediction was given. Three volleys from seven rifles were then fired, followed by the playing of "Taps" by Sergeant Major Woodrow English. As "Taps" was sounded, 21 F-15E's from Seymour Johnson AFBmarker in North Carolinamarker did a south-to-north missing man flyby of the casket just as the sun began to set on the western horizon. The flag over the casket was then folded and presented to Mrs. Ford by Vice President Cheney, at which point media coverage of the Interment Service, by prior request of the Ford family, concluded.

After the Interment Service, Mrs. Ford and her family and President Ford's brother, Dick Ford, spent a few moments at the casket and then proceeded inside the Museum. Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, President and Mrs. Carter, and former Secretary and Mrs. Rumsfeld approached the casket together for their final farewells. They then proceeded inside the Museum with Mrs. Ford. Lilian Fisher, Ann Cullen, Leonard Nurmi, Penny Circle, Richard Norton Smith, Gregory Willard, Ann Willard, Douglas "Chip" Emery, Richard Garbarino, Michael Wagner, Janice Hart, and Carol Buck were individually escorted to the casket. As a special tribute to First Sergeant Alvy Powell of the Army Chorus and his thirty years of friendship with President and Mrs. Ford, Sergeant Powell was escorted by Greg Willard to the casket where he paid his final respects. Honorary Pallbearers Martin Allen, Richard DeVos, Robert Hooker, Jack Nicklaus, Fred Meijer, Leon Parma, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, David Frey, and the other Honorary Pallbearers and spouses then approached the casket, along with Shelli Archibald, Jordan Lewis, Lee Simmons, Jeannete Simmons, and other guests. Later that evening, members of the Army Chorus were accompanied by Michael Wagner to the casket, where each of them paid his respects.

Before departing Grand Rapids the following afternoon, Mrs. Ford and her family returned to President Ford's tomb. In front of the tomb was a large bouquet of flowers that had been prepared from individual flowers taken from bouquets and other floral tributes placed by members of the public earlier in the week.


  1. Wilson, Jeff. Former President Ford dies at 93 Associated Press.
  2. NY Times Advertisement
  3. Id.
  4. Video - Breaking News Videos from
  5. After Death of a President, Tributes Are Set for Capital - New York Times
  6. Betty Ford photos - Daylife
  7. The Wall Street Journal Online - Peggy Noonan
  8. California mourners say farewell to Ford -
  9. YouTube - President Gerald Ford Funeral Arrival/Departure Washington
  10. George W. Bush, "National Day of Mourning for Gerald R. Ford". Press release, Office of the Press Secretary, December 28, 2006.
  11. Kornblut, Anne E., "Ford Arranged His Funeral to Reflect Himself and Drew In a Former Adversary", The New York Times, 28 December 2006, page A21
  12. DHS: DHS Designates President Ford Memorial Service as National Special Security Event
  13. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum
  14. The Christian service strictly followed Episcopal liturgy "Burial of the Dead, Rite I."
  15. Some of the music that was played during various services included four ruffles and flourishes, "Hail to the Chief", "O God, Our Help in Ages Past", "America, the Beautiful", "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name", ”The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” ”The Lord's Prayer,” "Holy Ghost with Light Divine", "Abide With Me", "Soul of My Savior", "Nearer, My God, to Thee", "Holy, Holy, Holy", "Going Home", "The Yellow and Blue", "The Victors", "Amazing Grace", "Crown Him With Many Crowns", "Fairest Lord Jesus", "A Mighty Fortress is our God", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", "God Bless America", "Faith of Our Fathers", and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
  16. The eulogies may be read in their entirety at:
  17. The article requested can not be found! Please refresh your browser or go back. (C4,20070102,NEWS99,70102018,AR)

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