38th U.S. President Gerald R. Ford’s birth name was Leslie Lynch King Jr., born in Nebraska in July 1913. His father, Leslie Sr., was the well-to-do son of a banker, and worked trading wool.

Only sixteen days after ‘Gerald’ was born, his mother packed him up and moved out, leaving her husband behind. Mom and baby Leslie (Gerald) arrived at her sister’s home in Illinois and then traveled to Michigan to move in with her parents in Grand Rapids. ‘Gerald’s’ mom & dad were divorced just a few months later, in December 1913.

Why did she move out and leave her husband?

According to Ford’s biography, a few days after he was born, his father picked up a butcher knife and threatened to kill not just his wife, but baby ‘Gerald’, and the nursemaid. Ford himself said that his father was abusive and would beat and hit his mother numerous times. His mother told him that the first time Leslie Sr. hit her was during their honeymoon, when he saw her smiling at another man.

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Even with all the money that Leslie Sr. was born into, the baby’s child support was paid for by the grandfather.

As for the name change, when Leslie Jr. was three-years-old, his mother married Gerald Rudolff Ford. From then on, the child was called Gerald R. Ford Jr. That name finally became legal in 1935, when he was 22.

Growing up in Grand Rapids, Gerald wound up waiting tables in a local restaurant when he was 17. It was here that he finally met his biological father when Leslie Sr. stopped in to pay him a visit. They occasionally stayed in contact until Leslie died in 1941. Years later, Gerald would refer to his father as a "carefree, well-to-do man who didn't really give a damn about the hopes and dreams of his firstborn son”. He went on to state that he did love his stepfather (and mother) very much.

Ford attended Grand Rapids South High School, graduated in 1931, became an excellent athlete, and from there, the U.S. presidency from 1974-1977.



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