Gerald R. Ford: Park Ranger,
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Gerald R. Ford holds a special place in the heart of the National Park Service family. He will be remembered by the world for his many accomplishments as President of the United States and his compassion in healing the nation’s wounds following the war in Vietnam. For the National Park Service, he is considered one of our own; he is the only American President to have served as a park ranger in the National Park Service.
In the summer of 1936, Gerald Ford worked as a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. Ford later recalled that time as, “One of the greatest summers of my life.” According to his supervisor at Yellowstone, Canyon District Ranger Frank Anderson, Ford was “a darned good ranger.” While serving in Yellowstone, one of Ford’s assignments was as an armed guard on the bear-feeding truck. The National Park Service no longer feeds the bears, but Ford always remembered that duty and often regaled his family with stories about the bear-feeding truck. During his summer at Yellowstone, Ford also worked in the Canyon Hotel and Lodge meeting and greeting VIPS, a job Ford explained to his supervisor was “undemocratic and un-American to give special attention to VIPs.” According to Wayne Repogle, Ford’s roommate that summer, one of the duties that Ford particularly enjoyed was the early morning check. From 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. every morning, each automobile in camp had to be checked for make, model, state and license number. Repogle indicated that the rangers had to run most of the time to get 150 to 200 licenses listed in two hours. As a football player, Ford was very fit and saw this duty as an opportunity to stay in shape. Repogle stated that Ford genuinely enjoyed, “everything we rangers had to do.”
As President of the United States, Ford oversaw an era when the National Park Service, under the leadership of Director Gary Everhardt, tightened the criteria for national parklands. Previously, for an area to be recommended for inclusion in the National Park System, an area had to be considered nationally significant and lend itself to administration, preservation, and public use. The new emphasis would also consider whether the area was assured of adequate protection outside the System and whether it would be available for public appreciation and use under such protection. During his time in office, President Ford added eighteen new areas to the National Park System. (See attached list)
The National Park Service family extends its heartfelt condolences to the Ford family at this difficult time and remembers one of its own fondly. We respect him as one of the pioneers in the field of rangering, and as a President that cared deeply for the National Park Service.
President Gerald R. Ford
“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
Last updated: February 24, 2015