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Gerald Ford may be the most Utahn president ever

In this 1974 photo, Vice President Gerald R. Ford marches in Utah State University commencement.
In this 1974 photo, Vice President Gerald R. Ford marches in Utah State University commencement.
Deseret News Archives

Editor's note: With the election season winding down and a new president about to take office, the Deseret News has decided to review the presidents who have visited Utah and explain what they did while they were on their trip through the Beehive State.

President Gerald Ford may have had stronger ties to Utah than any other president.

Not only did Ford visit the state as vice president and president, but his son Jack also attended Utah State University. He even invited a number of Utahns to be his aides when he took up the presidency, according to the Deseret News.

“Gerald R. Ford may have had closer ties to Utah than any other U.S. president. His son, Jack, attended Utah State University. Close friends lived in the state and spent the holidays with him for years. He made many trips to Utah before, during and after his presidency,” the Deseret News reported.

Ford also visited his son Jack in Tremonton, Utah, on a number of occasions, Deseret News reported.

As president, Ford met with LDS President Spencer W. Kimball while he was in Utah. Kimball even gave Ford a copy of the Book of Mormon when they met.

Just a few short months after becoming president, Ford spoke at the University of Utah about the dangers of Washington having too strong of a hold on the American people. He encouraged voters to support lawmakers who would free the people from the government’s grip.

“The day is past, in my honest judgment, when an octopus-like Government in the Nation's Capital can stretch its tentacles across the Nation and literally squeeze into itself more and more power,” he said. “In my judgment, we have to chop off those tentacles, and as each of those tentacles wither, we have to return the power and the revenue that they have grasped back to the States and to the local communities where they honestly belong — back to the taxpayers, the local taxpayers who made the funds available in the first place.”

After he lost the presidency, Ford returned to visit Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, the Deseret News reported. He also came back in 1982 to campaign for Rep. Dan Marriott.

His last visit to Utah included a visit to Jeremy Ranch, where he golfed. He also spoke about President Ronald Reagan’s plan to undo the SALT II treaty, which limited strategic arms.

You can read a full timeline of his visits here.

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.