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 Nixon, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Asheville, N.C. He was 87.

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

Neither terHorst nor his wife, who was also a journalist, regretted his decision to leave the White House, their son Peter terHorst of Asheville said Thursday. "We don't always have examples that rise to that level, but they both were people of integrity."

His wife of 64 years, Louise Roth terHorst, died last year. In addition to his son, survivors include three daughters, Karen Morris of Decatur, Ga., Margaret "Peggy" Robinson of Alexandria and Martha Lubin of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and eight grandchildren. - The Washington Post

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