Southern Illinoisans Remember President Ford's '76 Visit

Southern Illinoisans Remember President Ford's '76 Visit
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, Il. --Thirty years ago, Carla Sullivan of Harrisburg stood at the Williamson County Airport hoping to catch a glimpse of the then Commander in Chief. President Gerald Ford made a campaign stop in Marion, Illinois March 6, 1976.
"I was here when president ford was here, my daughter...was in the Harrisburg High School Marching Band at that time and came over to play "Hail to the Chief," said Sullivan.
Sullivan looks back warmly at that day in Williamson County and remembers the president she came to see.
"He was very well received and very nice gentleman. I'm sad that he's dead. He's one of our better presidents, even though he was never elected," Sullivan said.
"He sure came into office a funny way. Funny peculiar, but I think he leaves a legacy behind, and the United States and the people therein should remember him," said Philip Eigenmann of Marion.
Eigenmann was also waiting at the airport to greet President Ford. He was the director of the Marion High School Marching Band at that time, and had the opportunity to speak to the President face to face.
"I think he said 'thank you for having your band play' and so on and so forth," said Eigenmann.
Eigenmann was also given a few mementos to remember the day the President came to Marion.
"It has the presidential seal and his name, Gerald R. Ford," said Eigenmann pointing out the tie clip given to him by white house staffers.
While Eigenmann does treasure the tie clip and two ball-point pens bearing the name Gerald R. Ford, he says he treasures the memories of meeting the man even more.
"I can still remember him coming down the steps; I think it was a Boeing 727... Saying hello a smile on his face, you never forget that type of thing, it stays with you forever," Eigenmann said.