Harold Ratzlaff: Remembering former President Ford

To the editor:

I am sure that anyone who met President Ford can recall the exact time and place.

My story is somewhat different than most, as it occurred as follows: On a Monday morning I was attending the usual staff meeting of the Student Personnel Staff at Mesa College, now known as Mesa State College.

All matters of business had been concluded, the doughnuts and coffee dispensed with when the subject of finding someone to act as Grand Marshal for the Mavericks homecoming game and attendant festivities came up.

I jokingly commented that since the president had scheduled a meeting with a ranchers group, we might persuade him to serve in that capacity since he had been a college football player. This joke soon became reality and preparations were in place for a full day of activities.

Prior to the scheduled motorcade down north 12th Street, we were informed that it would be necessary for us to provide access to the rooftops of the Aspen Hall and Pinon Hall dormitories since they fronted 12th Street and snipers were spotted there as a security precaution.

After this had been accomplished, I asked the man in charge what it was like to have to see to this man's safety. He replied that it was difficult as President Ford always wanted to stop to shake hands and talk to people.

After this was accomplished, I went to my house on campus so my wife and I could go out to our front yard to view the president as his entourage passed by. We were soon joined by a large group of students. As the car carrying the president came by he made them stop for a few minutes while he spoke a few words directly to me and to the group of assembled students. To say that we were all awestruck would be putting it mildly.

Although this was at a time of student anti-government sentiment, I feel certain that every student in my yard that day came away with a changed attitude due to the gentle graciousness of this man.

Harold Ratzlaff

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