Honored by a president
December 28, 2006
Jim Ottoman cried when he heard former
President Gerald Ford died.
The 82-year-old, a long-time Malin farmer
and now a Klamath Falls resident, met Ford
in 1975 after being selected as National
Farm Family of the year.
H&N photo by
Andrew Mariman: Jim and Patricia
Ottoman share memories of their trip to
visit Gerald Ford when the family was
recognized as the National Farm Family of
the Year in 1975.
The contest, sponsored by the Farmer's Home
Administration and funded by a private company,
recognized farmers highly active in their
communities, Ottoman said.
Winners traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with
President Ford, the secretary of agriculture and
various senators and congressmen.
“He was a great man,” Ottoman said. “When we went
to the Oval Office to meet him, he came around the
desk and shook our hands. Here was the president
of the United States, one of the busiest men in
the world, and he took the time to meet us.”
‘Very gracious man'
Pat Ottoman, Jim's wife of 59 years, said Ford
made such an impression that the couple voted for
him in the 1976 election. “Meeting President Ford
was the best thing that ever happened to us. He
was a very gracious and genteel man,” she said.
Jim Ottoman's greatest memory of Ford was the
courage he said it took to pardon Nixon.
“You had to live at that time to understand how
big of a decision that was,” he said. “In
hindsight he did the right thing, but over half
the country at that time wanted (Nixon)
His biggest regret was that Ford was never elected
president in his own right.
“He didn't have enough time to be president,”
Ottoman said. “As a legislator, he always worked
across the aisle to reach a consensus, something
that isn't done anymore.”
- Gerry Baksys