We have never had a President named Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but we might have if Leslie Lynch King, Sr. had been less fond of the bottle. A few days after the birth of his son named Leslie Lynch King, Jr., he threatened to kill his wife and son with a knife. His wife packed her bags and left with baby Leslie. She divorced her husband and two and a half years later remarried. Although no adoption occurred, her new husband quickly established a strong father bond with her son, and he grew up thinking that this man was his father. Leslie Lynch King, Sr., the scion of a family fortune worth twenty million dollars, refused to pay child support. His father, Charles Henry King, made sure that the child support was paid until his death in 1928.
At age 15 Leslie Junior was told the truth by his mother. He met his biological father once when he was waiting tables in a restaurant while in high school. He invited his son to come live with him in Wyoming with his second wife and their children. Leslie Junior declined, saying he was happy where he was. His father said he respected his decision and gave him $25.00. They had sporadic contact after that until Senior’s death in 1941. Junior summed up his relationship with his father, in his description of him as a “carefree, well-to-do man who didn’t really give a damn about the hopes and dreams of his firstborn son”.
In 1935 at age 22, Junior legally changed his name to what he had been known by since his mother’s second marriage: Gerald Rudolf Ford Jr. Ford would write of Gerald Ford, Senior: He was the father that I grew up to believe was my father, the father I loved and learned from and respected. He was my dad… Dad was one of the truly outstanding people I ever knew in my life.