PASSINGS: Jerald terHorst

Jerald terHorst

He quit post over pardon of Nixon

Jerald terHorst, 87, a press secretary to President Ford who resigned over the pardon of Nixon, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at a retirement community in Asheville, N.C.

A longtime Detroit News journalist, terHorst served for about a month as Ford’s spokesman in 1974 before resigning to protest the president’s decision to pardon Nixon.

Ford pardoned Nixon after the Watergate scandal as a way to heal the nation. The pardon itself opened a national rift; but for the rest of his life, Ford said it was the right decision.

TerHorst told Ford he couldn’t defend that decision when young men who evaded Vietnam military service as a matter of conscience were not pardoned as well.

After submitting his resignation, terHorst returned to the Detroit News as a political columnist.

He was born July 11, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Mich., and took journalism classes at Michigan State University. After serving in the Marines during World War II, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1947.

He worked as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Press, where he began covering the future president, before joining the Detroit News in 1953. In 1958 he moved to the News’ Washington bureau and became bureau chief in 1961.

In 1981 he left journalism to become Ford Motor Co.'s director of public affairs in Washington.

-- times staff and wire reports