The senior Ford"s father George Ford died in a train accident in 1903 forcing him to drop out of school to support the family. He was working as a paint salesman at the Grand Rapids Wood Finishing Company when he met the future President"s mother Dorothy Ayer Gardner King. The couple married on February 1, 1917 following Dorothy"s divorce from King when the future President was three and began calling Dorothy"s first son "Gerald."
Gerald Rudolff Ford and Dorothy Ford bore three children – Thomas Gardner Ford (July 15, 1918 – August 28, 1995).
Richard Addison Ford (born June 3, 1924).
And James Francis Ford (August 11, 1927 – January 23, 2001). The elder Ford founded the Ford Paint and Varnish Company in 1929 just before the Great Depression.
After the Depression hit, Ford asked his employees to work for $5/week and likewise paid himself the same salary until all could be paid more. When the President"s birth father Leslie Lynch King reappeared in 1929 (or 1930 depending on accounts), he stopped at schools searching for a "Leslie King" before finding him at Grand Rapids South High School after asking for a "Junior Ford."
Leslie"s father Charles King had been paying child support for Ford until 1929 when the stock market crash wiped out his fortune.
After Leslie"s father died, Dorothy sought an order to get money from the $50,000 Leslie had inherited.
However, since Leslie had moved to Wyoming he was out of the jurisdiction of the Nebraska court. The elder Ford never legally adopted the President. The elder Ford was active on various functions including the formation of the Youth Commonwealth to help disadvantaged youth.
He was director of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Kent County, Michigan Republican Committee from 1944 until 1948 when he stepped down after the future President began his first run for Congress.
The President was to write later:
He was my dad. Dad was one of the truly outstanding people I ever knew in my life.
The elder Ford died on January 26, 1962 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The couple is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids.