(January 3, 2007)—Former President Gerald Ford was laid to rest Wednesday afternoon on a hillside overlooking the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., the city where he was reared, the city where he was married and the city where he allowed his thoughts to return when the pressures of the presidency closed in on him.
The burial service was the final stop on Ford’s final journey home, which started last week at the church in California he and his wife attended for nearly three decades.
Ford died on Dec. 26 at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 93.
Former First Lady Betty Ford showed signs of the strain of the last nine days as she used a wheelchair for a portion of the walk to the gravesite.
But she stood for portions of the final ceremony, which included music from a military band, a 21-gun salute and a missing-man flyover by warplanes.
Earlier at a funeral service at the church where Gerald and Betty Ford were married in 1948, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recalled his old boss as a man who "healed the nation" during a "dark and dangerous hour."
Ford was also eulogized by Jimmy Carter, the man who defeated him in 1976.
The one-time political opponents later became close friends.
Carter also praised Ford as a healer, and says he often looked to him for "sound advice."
Mrs. Ford wiped away tears during the service
Her four children sat with her.
Earlier Wednesday, Ford’s flag-draped coffin was removed from the museum where tens of thousands of people lined up to pay their respects to the former president.
Officials estimate some 3,000 people were passing by Ford’s casket each hour.
Thousands lined up Tuesday night and Wednesday morning on a bridge outside the museum, bundled up against the cold wind blowing off the Grand River.
One man says he would have been very upset with himself if he didn't attempt to see the casket, saying the public owed it to Ford to pay respect in his hometown.