I just wanted to pop back in for a bit (sorry, I've been a bit busy getting surgery) to comment on my own personal take on the death of former President Gerald Ford. He has the distinction of being the first and last Republican I ever would have voted for, if I'd had the vote at the time. See, when he was running for re-election, I was all of six years old. I was just wise enough to know that I didn't know anything worth speaking of on the issues and such, so I figured, if I could vote (I don't remember whether we had a mock election in first grade), I would cast my vote for the guy who already had the job experience, who happened to be Ford at that time. By the time I was ten and Jimmy Carter was running for re-election, I had opinion enough of Reagan, at least as the PR spokesman he was, to pretty thoroughly despise him, and I've never looked back since.
Anyway, it's not so much that there was anything special about Ford as a man or a politician that makes him the only Republican I ever would have voted for. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time, much the way he became President, I suppose. Nonetheless, in hindsight, and with some of the news and comments coming out since his death, it seems that he was certainly a different kind of Republican than either the one who preceded him, or those who have followed him, in the White House.
Added: Cf. Digby's somewhat similar musings.