former president ford has a special place in the hearts of the people of grand rapids. he wasnt originally from here, but this is where he grew up and who he prepresented for 25 years in congress. we have a special presidential museum for him here right on the edge of the grand river and have always looked to him as one of grand rapids favorite sons.
he was president long before i was around, but his importance and his history was always a part of my upbringing. around here he was always a favorite figure during history classes, and we visited his museum for class trips on more than one occassion. as an adult i have looked deeper and understood better why he is so revered here in grand rapids. he was truly a strong leader unafraid of grace.
last week we lost him. a city mourned. a couple friends and i took an evening and headed down to the museum to pay our respects. it was no small surprise that we were not alone down there. dozens were gathered to reflect on his life. there was a signature book that we could leave our thoughts on. one of the workers told us that there had already been more than eight thousand people who came to share their respects with the family. the mood was respectful, but actually quite chatty. everyone seemed to have a story of fords kindness. a neighbor who remembered his firm handshake, a family friend who remembered getting a card when his mother passed away. all stories of a gentle man and a loving servent of his people. a rare thing to find in politics these days. the stories remembered were not of power or money, but of a kind man who loved those around him. an example we can all look to and admire.