Became a national hero after saving Gerald Ford from assassination.
He was a decorated Marine and a Vietnam War veteran, strolling by San Francisco's Union Square, where Gerald Ford was attending a meeting of the World Economic Council.
The instant he saw a flash of metal in a crowd of onlookers, he realized the woman near him had a gun, and he grabbed her hand.
He was one of eight children born in Detroit, Michigan to a devout Baptist family, his father being a pipe fitter.
He was a close friend of future celebrated San Francisco mayor Harvey Milk.