LOS ANGELES – Gerald R. Ford is closing in on a record held by Ronald Reagan — living longer than any other U.S. president.
Ford, who turned 93 on July 14, 2006, will officially become the oldest president on Sunday by living to 93 years and 121 days. The milestone is based on full days.
"The length of one's days matters less than the love of one's family and friends," Ford said in a statement this week from the Rancho Mirage compound he shares with former first lady Betty Ford.
The nation's 38th chief executive was president from Aug. 9, 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned, until January 1977. He's suffered a variety of health problems in recent years.
"He's doing very well. He's still recuperating," Ford's chief of staff Penny Circle said.
In the statement released by Circle, the former president said: "I thank God for the gift of every sunrise and, even more, for all the years he has blessed me with Betty and the children, with our extended family and the friends of a lifetime.
"That includes countless Americans who, in recent months, have remembered me in their prayers. Your kindness touches me deeply. May God bless you all and may God bless America."
Duke Blackwood, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, said, "On behalf of all those who continue to serve Ronald Reagan, we all send our best to President Ford for reaching this milestone."
"If President Reagan were alive," Blackwood continued, "he'd probably say, 'Finally, somebody's talking about another president's age."'
Ford underwent heart procedures in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He received a cardiac pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and underwent angioplasty, getting stents in two of his coronary arteries to increase blood flow.
On Oct. 12, he was hospitalized at Eisenhower Medical Center for tests. He returned five days later to his nearby Thunderbird Estates home, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.
Ford was House minority leader when President Richard Nixon chose him to replace the resigned Spiro Agnew as vice president in 1973. Ford became president on Aug. 9, 1974, when Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.
Reagan was 93 years, 120 days when he died June 5, 2004. The nation's 40th president was born Feb. 6, 1911. On Oct. 11, 2001, Reagan surpassed the longevity milestone of the nation's second President John Adams, who lived from Oct. 30, 1735, to July 4, 1826.