Grand Rapids Ford Museum Shares Film About The President’s Football Days
When you visit the Ford Presidential Museum right along with the kids, you can learn about a relationship of the President’s that formed over 80 years ago.
Willis Ward, was his name. He and Gerald formed a friendship back in 1931. Willis, from Detroit, Ford, from Grand Rapids. Both were college freshmen.
It was during a racist era that they both became friends. Willis’ grandson remembers how fondly his grandfather talked about Ford. Willis defended Ford, just as Ford would defend Willis, one time even when Willis was benched for being black. Georgia Tech, a team from the south, said it would not play if Willis was playing on the field.
Willis’ grandson recalled his grandfather sharing that Gerald Ford a top player said he wouldn’t play either! In fact Gerald said, he was quitting. Willis, did convince Gerald to play. But it was one of the things that solidified that bond of friendship that lasted a lifetime.
Willis’ grandson, Buzz Thomas, went on to become a democratic lawmaker. Isn’t it funny how what goes around comes around. When there was a debate about whether President Ford’s statue should be included at the capital some Republican lawmakers argued the point that Ford never took a stand on racial issues. That’s when, Willis’ grandson Buzz Thomas, stood up, and became his grandfather’s voice.
See and hear the full story of the impact that a friendship can have on a world at the Ford Presidential Museum!