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I-Report: Americans remember Gerald Ford

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(CNN) -- Former President Gerald Ford, who took office after the resignation of Richard Nixon, died Tuesday at the age of 93.

He replaced Nixon who resigned in 1974 during a scandal surrounding the burglary of Democratic party offices at the Watergate Hotel.

Ford "died peacefully" at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, a statement from his office said (Full story).

Since then, has received hundreds of e-mails from readers sharing their memories and personal experiences with the nation's 38th president.

Here is a selection of their stories, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

Ron Rizio of Waldwick, New Jersey
I will always remember that the morning after he was sworn in, a photographer caught him cooking his own breakfast in the White House kitchen! From that moment on, the Imperial Presidency that had dragged us down and gotten us into such trouble was symbolically broken... In retrospect, he did what he had to do without fanfare.

Bill Hansult of Grover Beach, California
In 1993, I had the honor of a private reception with President Reagan in the office he maintained in Century City, CA. During this meeting President Reagan brought me over to a picture he seemed especially proud of. It was the picture of all 5 of the living Presidents at the opening of President Reagan's Library in Simi Valley. After President Reagan explained to me that up until the time of that picture, no other picture was taken of all 5 of the living presidents, he pointed to President Ford. President Reagan then said to me "do you see that guy there" and I said "yes, Mr. President" and then President Reagan said to me, "he didn't know it at the time, but when he was playing football for the University of Michigan, I was announcing those games." I was amazed of the odds of that happening. May both those former presidents rest in peace.

Paul Burch, Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan
I remember campaigning for him as senior in high school when he was the incumbent Representative in 1970... [On election night] I had parked my car in the department store parking ramp earlier and did not realize that they had closed the gates at 10pm. I was rather dismayed that I wouldn't be able to get my mother's car back home so she could work the next day. I came back in the building and was explaining this to one of his advisors and within 2 or 3 minutes, Mr. Ford came over to me, shook my hand, and said one of his aides would drive me home and explain the situation to my mom. He thanked me for a job well done, [asked me] what I was going to do with my life and [we] discussed politics for about five minutes. I was awed by the honesty, integrity, sincerity and his real caring for his constituents. Here he was, in the throws of winning and talking to news people and he had the time to talk to me about a locked up car. I will never forget that moment in my life.

Liz Nealon of New York, New York
It was the fall of 1973. I was in college, and was a resident assistant in my dormitory. One of my new freshmen was Maria Shriver... Spiro Agnew had just resigned the Vice Presidency in disgrace, and President Nixon was about to name the new Vice President. We all gathered in the TV Lounge, and watched as the President began a lengthy description of the strong qualifications of the as-yet-unnamed individual. All of us were listening, curious but baffled. We had no idea whom he was describing. Maria Shriver listened to a couple of sentences and announced with certainty: "It's Gerald Ford." She continues to put that deep background knowledge to use, having remained in the family business to this day!

Cheryl McCormick of Humble, Texas
I met then Congressman Ford back in 1970 in Dallas during the time I was working as a staff member on the re-election campaign for Congressman James M. Collins (R). A fund-raising dinner was held for Congressman Collins and then Congressman George H.W. Bush at the Great Hall of the Apparel Mart in Dallas. Congressman Gerald Ford was the guest speaker and it was there that I was introduced to him... Ford was very gracious, talkative and an extremely ebullient personality. I found him most charming, as did all who listened intently to his speech that night. Later that year, I again met Congressman Ford at a Republican Leadership Conference in Austin, Texas and was very surprised that he remembered my name and greeted me warmly.

Bernadette Gizelbach of Blackwood, New Jersey
My father was a military man and had two tours of Southeast Asia. I had written to Nixon to please spare him another tour. Of course, it didn't help. But then Ford came into office, the war ended, and I felt like he was a breath of fresh air. I also loved how he was clumsy (I am too). His falls were classic and brought a smile to an already grateful nation.

Yvette Schmidt of Charles Town, West Virginia
I remember meeting President Ford when he came to visit my college, Albion College, in Michigan. He started the Gerald Ford Institute there. I stood in lines that lined the sidewalks and roads, just to shake his hand and get a picture. He was a very gracious man who did much to heal the nation.

Robbie Tillman of Salina, Kansas
In 1973 I met then Vice President Ford when he stopped at Little Rock Air Force Base, where my father was serving. Dad asked me if I was interested in meeting the Vice President. I thought he was pulling my leg, but I went along anyway. When the plane pulled up to the hanger, I was instantly awestruck! The Vice President came toward us and greeted my father and I with handshakes. I turned 18 in time for the 1976 elections and of course I voted for Gerald Ford. What an impression that meeting made on me!

Daniel Stepnick of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
In the late eighties, I was a mechanic for United Airlines at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. After signing the Maintenance Release for a DC10, I took the log book to the cockpit, and upon leaving the aircraft, I was walking down the Jet way. Three men were walking to board the aircraft, as there were no passengers onboard yet. One of the men, stopped, said "good morning, how are you," and shook my hand. Getting back to our ready room, I kept thinking I know him from some place, and then realized it was President Ford. I fly the American Flag, 24 hours a day. It will fly at half staff to be sure for this Great Person.

Christine Smith of Grand Haven, Michigan
Gerry Ford was a frequent visitor to my 7th Grade Civics Class as my teacher, Frank Meyer, was a very good friend. Frank went to Washington with Mr. Ford and became his assistant as he rose in government. I remember so very well how we all learned about our government from Mr. Ford, our representative, and what a "common" man he was, in the very best sense of the word. We in West Michigan, mourn the passing of this great, great man.

Ted Aguirre of Portland, Oregon
I was outside the St. Francis Hotel when Sarah Jane Moore attempted to assassinate Mr. Ford on September 22, 1975. I recall his car speeding off down Post Street. There was shock, and disbelief in the assembled crowd. Oliver Sipple, the man who grabbed Sarah Jane Moore, became a friend of mine over the years. Perhaps now, Mr. Ford can thank him in person for saving his life. I respected Mr. Ford and Mrs. Ford a great deal. He was the right man, at the right time.

Mike Carolus of Lewistown, Pennsylvania
I had the very rare opportunity to meet President Ford in 1974 in New Orleans. I was only three years old, and I was chosen to represent a hospital at the dedication of their surgical wing, and President Ford was there. And after I met him, for the next several years, I referred to him as "Uncle Ford."

Donald Jansen of Houston, Texas
I chaired President Ford's 1976 primary campaign in Houston. I remember when he attended a pre-primary rally in Houston with 5,000 in a high school auditorium and many thousands more outside. The President, while running late and while I "stretched" the program for the 5,000 inside, plunged into the crowds outside shaking the hands of many surprised attendees. Ford did this despite two assassination attempts during his presidency and the warnings of his Secret Service. He was always a man of the people. We are most fortunate that he was there when the nation needed him.

John Jarman of Tifton, Georgia
After WWII, my father was working a couple of jobs in Grand Rapids, trying to support his mother and sister. He was also in the U.S. Naval Reserve, but most of the time found it paid more to drive his taxi than make his reserve meetings. Dad got a notice that if he did not go to the next meeting his name would be submitted to the draft board. He showed up on time and ended up on the USS Coral Sea for a 6 week shakedown cruise. He ended up riding out a hurricane in the gulf and getting a draft notice for the army on the next mail call. After returning to Grand Rapids, Dad went straight to the freshman congressman's office and asked Mr. Ford for help in getting out of the Navy and into the Army. One phone call later and Dad was on his way to Army Boot camp. Dad was always grateful to Mr. Ford for getting out of those ships!

Read more e-mails: Remembering Gerald Ford

Troy Reynolds lit a candle and laid roses on Gerald Ford's star at the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars.



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