Dorothy Ayer Ford / King (Gardner)

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Dorothy Ayer Ford / King (Gardner)'s Geni Profile

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Dorothy Ayer Ford (Gardner)

Birthplace: Harvard, McHenry County, Illinois, United States
Death: September 17, 1967 (75)
Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States (Heart Attack)
Place of Burial: Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Levi Addison Gardner and Adele Augusta Gardner
Wife of Gerald Rudolph Ford, Sr.
Ex-wife of Leslie Lynch King, Sr.
Mother of Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States; Private; Thomas Gardner Ford; Richard Addison Ford and Dr. James Francis Ford
Sister of Tenusse Ayer James; Private; Dorothy Ayer; Dorothy Ayer Gardner and Dorothy Ayer Ford
Half sister of Dorothy Ayer Ford; Dorothy Ayer Ford and Tenusse Ayer James

Occupation: Politcan
Managed by: Edward Malcolm King
Last Updated:

About Dorothy Ayer Ford / King (Gardner)

Dorothy Ayer Gardner King Ford was the mother of U.S. President Gerald Ford.

Dorothy Ayer Gardner was born in the small town of Harvard, Illinois to Levi Addison Gardner, a businessman and one-time mayor, and Adele Augusta (Ayer) Gardner.

There she married her first husband, wool trader Leslie Lynch King of Omaha, Nebraska, on September 7, 1912. She met him while she was in college, as he was the charming brother of her roommate.

The couple returned to Omaha, King's home. They lived at first with his parents at their Victorian mansion at 3202 Woolworth Avenue. His parents were wealthy banker and businessman Charles Henry King and the former Martha Alicia Porter, both from Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Dorothy and Leslie King's son was born on July 14, 1913. They named him Leslie Lynch King, Jr. Soon after her marriage, Dorothy discovered that her husband was abusive. In Omaha she further discovered he was a liar and alcoholic, but she was soon pregnant. With the support of his parents, she stayed with them and her husband until the birth of their son. After Leslie threatened her and the child with a knife a few days after the birth, Gardner King completed her plans to leave her husband.

Sixteen days after the birth of her son, Dorothy Gardner King left her husband. Divorce was unusual then, but she refused to continue to risk her son's safety or her own. She took Leslie, Jr. with her to the Oak Park, Illinois home of her sister Tannisse and her husband, Clarence Haskins James. From there she moved to the home of her parents, who had relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan. That was where her son grew up.

Dorothy Gardner King quickly filed for formal separation and divorce. On December 19, 1913, an Omaha court granted a divorce to the Kings. Leslie King refused to pay child support. His father Charles Henry King paid it until shortly before his death in 1930.

Three years later, Dorothy met Grand Rapids businessman Gerald Rudolff Ford on February 1, 1917. Then they called her first son Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr., although he was not formally adopted by Ford. Gerald Ford, Jr. formally changed his name in 1935, in honor of his stepfather, the only father he really had. At the time, Ford adopted a more conventional spelling of his middle name. Later Ford recounted that his mother insisted he learn to control his temper, one he seemed to have inherited from his biological father.

Dorothy Ford bore three sons during her second marriage: Thomas Gardner Ford (July 15, 1918 - August 28, 1995), Richard Addison Ford (June 3, 1924 - March 20, 2015), and James Francis Ford (August 11, 1927 - January 23, 2001).[5] All her children grew up with a rich relationship both with her parents, and with her husband and his family.

She and Gerald Ford, Sr. were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

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Dorothy Ayer Ford / King (Gardner)'s Timeline

February 27, 1892
Harvard, McHenry County, Illinois, United States
Age 17
Evanston Ward 1, Cook, Illinois
July 14, 1913
3202 Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, United States
July 15, 1918
Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, USA
Age 27
June 3, 1924
Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States