Post-presidential years of Jerry Ford





Gerald R. Ford thought globally as a president, but in a salubrious 30-year retirement spent on ski slopes and putting greens, he acted locally, serving on charities, donning sneakers for the first Desert AIDS Walk, speaking to the Boys and Girls Club and leading the annual Fourth of July parade.

Ford's regular-guy lifestyle distinguished him from other former presidents. Richard M. Nixon, who handed the presidency to Ford, wrote books to buff up his reputation. Ford's former adversary, Jimmy Carter, has built homes for the indigent and crisscrossed the globe brokering cease-fires and monitoring elections. Bill Clinton globe-trots as well, promoting AIDS awareness and, with George H.W. Bush, raising money for victims of the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

In comparison, Ford's biggest achievement -- helping his wife found the Betty Ford Center, the internationally known substance-abuse rehabilitation facility -- could be said to pale in comparison. But in his quiet unhurried way, friends and others said, the ex-president, who died here Tuesday, was a model citizen, known for the courtesy with which he treated people and the sincerity with which he lent his time and money.



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