Dwight Eisenhower didn’t need to attack Adlai Stevenson II — as the Democratic candidate’s ex-father-in-law, who lived in Spring Lake, did that for him.
John Borden — born May 21, 1884 — became the father-in-law of Adlai Stevenson II when his daughter, Ellen, married the future Illinois governor and presidential candidate in December 1928. But a little more than 20 years later, the honeymoon was over and the couple divorced.
John Borden came to Spring Lake to live with his wife, Frances, in 1946. He founded the Yellow Cab Co. and was organizer of the Old Dutch Refinery in Muskegon. Borden was a veteran of World War I, having served as lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy in France.
By the time Adlai Stevenson ran for president in 1952, John Borden — 68 and a resident of Spring Lake at the time — became an outspoken critic of his former son-in-law. Borden told the press he had “no intention” of altering plans “to vote a straight Republican ticket this fall.”
The dissolving of Ellen Borden Stevenson’s marriage began in September 1949 when Gov. Stevenson announced that he and Ellen were separating. Stevenson, elected governor the previous year, said he would not contest a divorce. Stevenson added that they retained the “highest mutual regard” for each other.
However, his ex-spouse and her father both rallied against Stevenson becoming the nation’s president in the election of 1952.
Ellen Borden Stevenson offered “well wishes” in July 1952, congratulating Adlai on securing the Democratic Party’s nomination, but noted to the press she believed the party had “been in power too long” and was voting Republican.
The Bordens revived their opposition to Stevenson in 1956 when Adlai ran a second time for the nomination and office of president.
John Borden’s harsh political stand against his ex-son-in-law made national headlines several times. Stevenson lost to Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. The rest is history.
Adlai Stevenson died from a heart attack on July 14, 1965, at the age of 65. Ellen Borden Stevenson died at age 64 on July 28, 1972.
John Borden died July 29, 1961, at he age of 78 at his Spring Lake residence. Survivors living in Spring Lake at the time of his death included his wife, Frances; a son, Robert, who lived at the residence; and two daughters, Jill (Rodgers) and Mary (Hewitt.) John Borden is buried in Spring Lake Cemetery.