By Nancy Short and Kathy Graneggen Moberg
As the University Community and the nation as a whole celebrated President Gerald R. Ford’s life at the close of 2006 and opening of 2007, Cookies recalled some of their very personal memories of the President. On April 5, 1977, President Ford was the honored guest for dinner at the Martha Cook Building.
Building Director Olive Chernow ’47, ’53 took the initiative, inviting the President to dinner when she heard he was planning to visit campus. Before the red carpet could be rolled out, many security precautions took place – the Dining Room and kitchen were inspected thoroughly by Secret Service, State Police, Ann Arbor Police, and campus security. When he arrived, Olive remembered President Ford remarking that the last time he visited the Martha Cook Building it was with a different interest and different motivation!
Although a visit by President Ford was impressive, the residents may have enjoyed the Secret Service just as much! Several residents had dates later that evening and there were many exciting stories the next day in the Martha Cook Building.
A few Cookies shared memories of President Ford’s visit. Debra Ball McMillan ’80 recalled serving as a waitress during the visit and the gaggle of Secret Service men who stood out like sore thumbs in MCB – rumor had it that the Secret Service did a security check on every resident! She also shared the following story. “Cindy Lassig wanted to see President Ford as he crossed South University from the University President’s house just across the street, to Martha Cook. To get a better view, she opened the screen to the window, and leaned out. ‘You had better lean in’, one blue-suited Secret Service man said to her. ‘Because I might fall out?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘Because of the snipers on the roof.’ Cindy quickly leaned in.”
Jean Coulter Schultz ’77 served as House Board President for 1976-1977 and recalled meeting President Ford in the foyer, as well as the Secret Service men “who almost literally hid behind one of the large curtains”. Jean also shared a story about the kitchen preparation for the visit. A Secret Service man inspected the food and wanted to know which waitress would serve the President’s table. He selected a particular plate specifically for the salad, and monitored what the President ate and drank the entire dinner.
Kathy Graneggen Moberg ’79 recalled, “I was struck by how tall, charismatic and approachable he was in person, and by his smile. I was also proud of the lovely event the MCB staff and residents organized on what I think was relatively short notice. It was a memorable, exciting day!”
Did you have dinner with President Ford at MCB?
Please email Kathy Moberg with your memories and scans of your photos, and we will add them to our website.