Former US President Gerald Ford dead

Ford had battled pneumonia in Jan '06 and underwent two heart treatments.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 14:39 IST

Gerald R Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died, his wife, Betty, said. He was 93.

"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," Ford's wife said on Tuesday in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage.

"His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

 Key facts on Ford

• Ford pardoned Nixon on Sept 8, 1974, for any crime he may have committed in office, an act that stunned the nation and stirred enduring controversy. He denied making any deal with Nixon.

• He escaped two assassination attempts in a 17-day span in 1975, and served on the Warren panel which investigated the 1963 assassination of President John Kennedy.

• Ford declared the Vietnam War "finished as far as America is concerned" on April 23, 1975, and the US-backed Saigon government fell one week later. 

• Ford represented Michigan in the US House of Representatives from 1949 and rose through Republican ranks to become House minority leader in the 1960s. Nixon named him vice president in 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned the post in a corruption scandal.

• He was the only US president to have assumed office without winning a national election as either president or vice president.

The statement did not say where Ford died or list a cause of death.

Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments - including an angioplasty - in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93.

Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, California, about 209 kilometres east of Los Angeles.

Ford was an accidental president, Nixon's hand-picked successor, a man of much political experience who had never run on a national ticket.

He was as open and straight-forward as Nixon was tightly controlled and conspiratorial.

He took office minutes after Nixon flew off into exile and declared, "Our long national nightmare is over."

But he revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president.

That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976.

But it won praise in later years as a courageous act that allowed the nation to move on.

Ford also earned a place in the history books as the first unelected vice president, chosen by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew who also was forced from office by scandal.

First Published: Dec 27, 2006 11:48 IST