notable deaths elsewhere

April 04, 2010|By The Washington Post

JERALD TERHORST, 87

Ford aide resigned over Nixon pardon

Jerald F. terHorst, a newspaperman who resigned after one month as White House press secretary over his disagreement with President Gerald R. Ford's pardon of Richard M. Nixon, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Asheville, N.C.

Mr. terHorst, Washington bureau chief for the Detroit News, was Mr. Ford's first appointment in 1974 after Mr. Nixon resigned the presidency and Mr. Ford, then vice president, succeeded him. Thirty days later, Mr. Ford announced that he would pardon Mr. Nixon for any Watergate-related crimes he might have committed. Upon learning of the pardon the night before the announcement, Mr. terHorst said he was unable to defend the decision.

"It really was for me an agonizing decision," he later said. "I stayed up most of that night just formulating a three-paragraph letter of resignation."

Quitting over matters of principle is so rare in Washington that the letter gave him membership in what former Secretary of State Dean Acheson once called "the most exclusive club in the America - men in public life who have resigned in the cause of conscience."

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