Along with the rest of the nation, the Kentwood, Mich., chapter of Shriners of North America is mourning the loss of fellow Shriner, President Gerald R. Ford, who passed away on Dec. 26, 2006.

Ford’s connection with the international fraternities of Freemasonry and Shriners of North America began at a young age – his father was an active Mason and Shriner. Ford said in a 1976 speech, however, that it was in 1934, while playing center on the University of Michigan football team, when his real personal exposure to the Shrine began. During a speech given to Mohammed Shriners in Illinois, Ford explained he was selected to play in the fraternity’s 10th annual East-West Shrine Game, an all-star college football game that raises funds and awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children. As part of the game’s festivities, he and the other players toured the San Francisco Shriners Hospital (now located in Sacramento).

“It was a tremendous experience for us on the Eastern football team to go to that hospital and see what is done to help unfortunate people, especially young people,” Ford said. “And I learned…what great people like all of you do, on a day-to-day basis, to help those less fortunate than yourself.”

On Sept. 30, 1949, along with his three half-brothers, Ford was initiated at Malta Lodge #465, the Masonic chapter in Grand Rapids, Mich. Through the years, he earned his Fellowcraft and Master Mason degrees, joined the Scottish Rite and other Masonic organizations, and was awarded a number of distinctions and honors. On Oct. 24, 1959, Ford became a Noble of Saladin Shriners in Kentwood, Mich.

Ford represented the Shriners fraternity on a number of occasions. He made a guest appearance on the Shriners Hospitals for Children 75th Anniversary Television Special in 1997. He also was inducted into the inaugural East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame class on Jan. 12, 2002.

Fellow Nobles have always been proud that President Ford was a member of Shriners of North America. The entire fraternity expresses deepest condolences to his friends and family, especially his Lady Betty and their children, Michael, Jack, Steven and Susan, for the loss of this great man. He truly was a Noble in every sense of the word.


President Gerald Ford stated, "Masonic principles--internal, not external--and our order’s vision of duty to country and acceptance of God as a Supreme Being and guiding light have sustained me during my years of Government service.

Today especially, the guidelines by which I strive to become an upright man in Masonry give me great personal strength.

Masonic precepts can help America retain our inspiring aspirations while adapting to a new age.

It is apparent to me that the Supreme Architect has set out the duties each of us has to perform, and I have trusted in His will with the knowledge that my trust is well-founded."

 Thanks to Brother Robert C. Carmen, and the Chancellor Robert Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York for this photograph.

The following is the text of a message of condolence on the passing of our Brother Mason, Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States of America and a member of Malta Lodge No 465, Grand Rapids, Michigan.   This statement was issued December 27, 2006 by the Grand Masters of New York and Michigan and the Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America.

"Gerald R. Ford embodied the tenets of Freemasonry. He upheld the values of personal integrity and of being true to his word, and in a time of great crisis, Brother Ford, a true patriot, also sought to heal our ailing Nation.  As our President, he represented our fraternity well.

On behalf of the Grand Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons of the States of Michigan and New York, the Masonic Service Association of North America, and Masons  everywhere, we offer our sincere condolences to Betty Ford and her family on the passing of Brother Gerald Ford, a humble man who calmly guided our country out of one of its darkest hours."

Brother Ford visited the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Va. on George Washington's birthday in 1975 to unveil the bronze plaque of himself that now hangs in the auditorium. Bill Morlock gave me (Brother Don Robey) a picture that the Navy photographer took that day moments after Ford unveiled the plaque.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo

Left to right in the picture are: Brother Gerald R. Ford, Worshipful Raymond C. Ellis, Past Grand Master of New York and the President of the GWMNM Assoc, Don Robey, Worshipful Master of Alexandria- Washington Lodge No. 22, (unknown), Most Worshipful Marvin E. Fowler, Past Grand Master of District of Columbia and Executive Secretary-Treasurer for the GWMNM Assoc. The above picture and information was provided by Brother Don Robey.

Gerald R. Ford, the thirty-eighth President of the United States of America, was initiated into Masonry on September 30, 1949, in Malta Lodge No. 465, Grand Rapids Michigan, along with his (half) brothers Thomas Gardner Ford 1918-1995, Richard Addison Ford 1924 and James Francis Ford 1927. The Fellowcraft and Master Mason Degrees were conferred by Columbia Lodge No. 3, Washington, D.C., on April 20 and May 18, 1951, as a courtesy to Malta Lodge.