Wednesday, December 27, 2006

President Ford passes away

I woke up this morning to the news that former President Ford passed away overnight. While not surprising due to his recent ill health, it's still sad to know that we've lost another former president.

It reminded me of when I saw him in person.

President Ford was one of three presidents I've seen in person. I saw President Nixon speak on the University of Nebraska campus when I was a student in 1971. And from a great distance I saw President Clinton jogging along the Potomac River (accompanied by security and an ambulance!) when I was on a D.C. river cruise in the early '90s.

Also in the early '90s, I was in the Palm Springs area for a business conference when I worked for Home Savings. I was flying back to Chicago and was at the airport seeing off one of my work colleagues before my plane was scheduled to leave. Because of the constant warm weather in Palm Springs, you climb the stairs and board the plane from the outside. My colleague boarded the plane and I was watching all of the other plans land and take off. Meanwhile, the plane just sat there past its scheduled departure. Finally, two limousines with American flags drove right up to the plane. Several large men got out of the first limo and then an older man got out. It was Gerald Ford. He was on his way to a speaking engagement and was flying commercial, albeit first class!

Imagine being on an airplane with a former president!