Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. on July 14, 1913. When he was an infant his mother took her young son and left Omaha, Nebraska and an abusive relationship behind.

After settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dorothy King met and married Gerald R. Ford, a local businessman. Her son quickly became known as Gerald R. Ford, Jr., or “Junie.”

Young Ford was raised in a strict, yet loving, home. He is pictured here with his Boston terrier, Fleck.

There were always activities for family and friends, including the Boys’ Day Parade down Madison in Southeast Grand Rapids. In 1926 the boys won First Prize.

Young Ford is pictured in Wisconsin with his cousin, Gardner James.

This school photo was taken at Madison Elementary School in Grand Rapids. The site is now home to Gerald R. Ford Middle School.

After graduating from Grand Rapids’ South High School, Ford went on to play football for the University of Michigan. He later said that the experience taught him many valuable lessons, including how to handle criticism.

During his early life, Gerald Ford had a variety of jobs, including a summer at Yellowstone National Park as a ranger.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII, Gerald Ford left his newly established law firm to join the Navy, spending two years on the USS MONTEREY.

World War II transformed Gerald Ford’s thinking about the United States and its role in the world. The nation could no longer remain isolationist.