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It has been 40 years since Richard Nixon resigned and Michigan’s Gerald Ford was sworn in as president. He is the only Michigander to be president, and the first  not elected by the Electoral College.

Today on Stateside, we look at Ford’s legacy with guests Patrick McLean and Gleaves Whitney. McLean is director of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service at Albion College. Whitney is the director of Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

What kind of president was Gerald Ford? Reviews are mixed.

A 2012 Gallup poll found Americans judge Gerald Ford to be just an average president. Patrick McLean wrote a piece in Bridge Magazine that challenges that view, and said that we should appreciate Ford’s leadership.

McLean said Ford was dealt a bad hand when he was sworn in.

There was the unpopular war in Vietnam, the beginning of stagflation, high unemployment rates, and low job growth. He inherited the presidency when trust in the political establishment was at a low point.

Patricia Hill Burnett, who was famous back in the 1970s as sort of the quintessential Republican feminist, will be 94 in a few months.

She is still defiantly pro-Equal Rights Amendment, pro-choice, and on economic issues, Republican to the core.

She was runner-up to Miss America 72 years ago, and went on to become both Michigan’s unofficial state portrait painter and the woman who started the state chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women.

Comfortably wealthy, she always dresses and talks, as Detroit News columnist Laura Berman says today, “like a local, more highly educated version of Zsa Zsa Gabor.”

I went to see her earlier this year when she was recovering from a brief illness, and she told me that she felt sad that many young women did not want to be called feminists any more.

She was also sad that younger women didn’t know anything about Betty Ford.

Ford at 100

Jul 13, 2013
The National Archives

Michigan celebrates what would have been President Gerald R. Ford's 100th birthday this weekend.

Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and attended the University of Michigan in his youth.

Jim Kratsas is the Deputy Director at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. He says the late president's legacy is known around his native Michigan.

“It's a time to celebrate Michigan's favorite son,” says Kratsas.

He says the late president was also deeply involved in the local community.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy / Flikr

ANN ARBOR, Michigan. (AP) - The University of Michigan is home to a new statue of one of its most famous alumni, President Gerald Ford.

Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft helped dedicate the Ford statue Tuesday in Ann Arbor.

The bronze statue created by sculptor J. Brett Grill now stands in the Great Hall at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

It's a scale model of the statue of Ford that stands in the National Statuary Hall of the Capitol Rotunda.

Lauren Gerson

Two former First Ladies will take part in a special event in Grand Rapids Monday.

Former First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush are headlining the day-long symposium looking at the influence of First Ladies.

Elaine Didier is the Gerald R. Ford presidential museum director.   She says the Bushes have spoken at similar events at presidential museums in Texas.

“They are quite a dynamo,” says Didier, “The two have a great rapport. I mean it’s really is something……a mother-in-law / daughter-in-law first lady situation.”

Courtesy photo / Heritage Auctions

This week the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation is auctioning off a bunch of memorabilia and personal items that once belonged to the former president.

“This is a rare opportunity for people that want to have part of President Ford or Mrs. Ford’s legacy,” Joe Calvaruso said. He’s President of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.

Official White House portrait

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - An annual wreath-laying ceremony has been held to remember former President Gerald Ford at a West Michigan museum bearing his name.

Relatives and friends of the Ford family attended Saturday's ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, where Ford and his wife are buried.

Gerald Ford died in 2006. The ceremony also was to include a remembrance of former first lady Betty Ford, who died last year.

The wreath-laying is held each year to mark Gerald Ford's birthday. He would have been 99 on Saturday.

For the first time in almost 18 years, a Wolverine will don jersey number 48 this season. The number was previously retired for Michigan's 1934 MVP and the 34th President of the United States.

Gerald Hodge / The Trompe l'Oeil Society of Artists

Gerald P. Hodge, a well-known medical and biological illustrator, died in his Ann Arbor home on Thursday at the age of 91. In addition to drawing for medical journals and founding the Master of Fine Arts program in medical and biological illustration at the University of Michigan, Hodge was one of the seven members of the Trompe l'Oeil Society of Artists.

Hodge drew and painted intricate still life images, often depicting nostalgic mementos like ticket stubs and seashells. To see more examples of Hodge's artwork, visit the Trompe l'Oeil Society of Artists website.

The art style trompe l'oeil , French for “deceive the eye,” is known for images and sculptures that appear to exhibit greater dimensions or photo-realism. Hodge taught workshops on mastering this art of optical illusion at the Scottsdale Artists' School in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In an artist’s statement on the society’s website, Gerard wrote that his experience teaching at the University of Michigan prepared him for producing trompe l'oeil artwork.

“My paintings are carefully designed," Hodge wrote, "and I try and go beyond photographic appearances by adding contrast, adding to or eliminating details, making shadows more important, and by slightly changing the shapes and colors of my subject matter in order to enhance the design and quality of my paintings.”

Follow the links for more modern examples of trompe l'oeil artwork and Hodge’s full obituary.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - World-renowned medical illustrator Gerald Parker Hodge has died at his home in Michigan. He was 91.

His daughter Melinda Hodge says Hodge died Thursday in Ann Arbor after a fight with cancer.

Hodge was a longtime professor at the University of Michigan, where he founded the master's program in medical and biological illustration in 1964.

Beyond his work in the applied art field, he was prominent as a fine artists specializing in "fool the eye" paintings.

Photo courtesy of the Gerald R Ford International Airport

Airplanes across the country use de-icing fluid, and airports have to figure out how to deal with the run-off from the fluid.

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has come up with a $15 million plan to deal with the run-off which contains a substance called glycol. The Grand Rapids airport currently mixes glycol with storm water and dumps it into a tributary, where it breaks down and creates a bacterial slime.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Cameras shuttered but the crowds remained silent as uniformed officers’ took Betty Ford’s casket into Grace Episcopal Church Thursday afternoon. 

John Smith walked a few blocks from his home in East Grand Rapids to watch. Smith says despite their station in life, the Ford’s never lost touch with working Americans. 

“The Fords’ represent the Camelot of the common man, and what the regular guy could aspire to as a way to live and a way to be happy and they achieved it.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The funeral itself is private, but around 200 people are lining the route close to the Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids.

Donna Smith and her husband, John, live just a couple blocks away from the church and got a great spot to view the precession pass by.

"She went through a lot personally and because of her strength in fighting breast cancer, alcoholism; just being a wonderful wife and mother and supporting her family," Donna Smith says.  "I have a lot of respect for that."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Betty Ford will be laid to rest Thursday afternoon in Grand Rapids. Wednesday evening, thousands paid their respects during visitation at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.

The sidewalk outside the Ford Museum was packed with people when the motorcade rolled by, carrying Betty Ford on her final trip home.

Edna Jungers and her friend Yvonne Locker traveled from Milwaukee to see the former first lady in repose.

Jungers says her son lived near the Fords when they had a condo in Vail, Colorado.

Felix de Cossio / White House

Betty Ford and her husband, the late President Gerald Ford, spent much of the past thirty years in Rancho Mirage, California. About a thousand people will attend an invitation-only funeral service today in nearby Palm Desert.

Wednesday, Mrs. Ford’s body will be flown to Michigan. A public viewing will take place tomorrow evening at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. 

A private funeral at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids is planned for Thursday. Afterward, she will be buried next to her husband on the grounds of the presidential museum.  

Betty Ford died last week.  She was 93.

They’re bringing Betty Ford back home this week, to be buried next to her husband, President Gerald Ford, at his presidential museum in Grand Rapids.

You knew by now that the former first lady died last Friday in California. But what you may not have known unless you are in your fifties, or older, is just how important she was.

They both were, really. President Ford’s story is better known, and best expressed by Jimmy Carter, who said when he took office: “I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.”

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford had a big role in that too, but she also did something else. She showed the nation that a first lady could also be a human being.

The Fords took office after the final convulsion of the Watergate scandal, and eleven of the worst years the United States has ever known. The public had learned that Richard Nixon had lied about virtually everything.

His predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, had dragged us into a war in Vietnam for reasons nobody understood, a war that went on for years and tore our nation apart. Before that, we’d been traumatized when the young president before him had his head blown off in broad daylight. The presidency and America had taken a beating.

Nor were any of the first ladies of the period women to whom most people could relate. We’d always been fascinated by the presidents’ wives. But they were sort of like royalty, fascinating, forbidden and distant. Betty Ford was a regular person. Just months before she moved in to the White House, she was the unknown wife of the house minority leader, looking forward to her husband’s retirement from Congress. Then, suddenly, she was first lady.

But she was still Betty Ford, the irrepressible mother of four kids, a woman who most of all, was real.

(official White House portrait)

Betty Ford said things that first ladies just don't say, even today. And 1970s America loved her for it.

According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she'd try it, too. She told "60 Minutes" she wouldn't be surprised to learn that her youngest, 18-year-old Susan, was in a sexual relationship (an embarrassed Susan issued a denial).

(courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library)

The Gerald R. Ford presidential museum and library would be among the first places people in Michigan would see affected by a possible federal government shutdown.  

On a normal Saturday in April, a few hundred people visit the Ford presidential museum in Grand Rapids.   But, if Congress can’t reach a budget deal by midnight tonight, the Ford museum’s doors will stay locked over the weekend.

Marion Doss / Flickr

The U.S. House of Representatives has authorized a plan to put a statue of President Gerald R. Ford in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C., according to Michigan Congressman Fred Upton. Rep. Upton says all 14 of his colleagues in Michigan’s Congressional delegation co-sponsored the resolution.

The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate for approval. The Associated Press reports:

The statue would replace a statue of Michigan abolitionist Zachariah Chandler. Federal law lets each state display two statues in the Capitol at one time.

Upton says a presentation ceremony for the new statue is planned May 3.

President Ford represented Michigan in the U.S. House of Representative before he became President Richard Nixon’s vice president. Ford succeeded Nixon in 1974. Ford passed away in 2006. Representative Upton released the following statement on his website:

“As one who has the honor and privilege of representing some of the very same people in southwest Michigan that President Ford did during his time in the House, it gives me great pleasure to witness this fitting tribute to Michigan’s native son,” said Upton.  “President Gerald Ford is a Michigan original and a model for all those called to public service.  A seemingly ordinary American who unexpectedly found himself in the presidency at one of our nation’s most tumultuous times, Gerald Ford led with honesty and integrity.  By standing above the political fray, President Ford allowed a wounded nation to heal.”