Although I was a little young (I was either 5 or 6 when he was elected - some joker put my birthday right next to election day!) to remember his election, I've always heard that he didn't so much win as Ford lost.
Kinda like Shrub and Gore. (Hell, whoever "won" that election, I wouldn't say that they won - rather that the other had lost. Nobody won that election.)
Anyways, he always reminded me of Mr. Rogers, and still does today. In fact, when I was a kid, I tended to get them confused. It might have been the sweater. I also had a crush on his daughter. (Anybody who gets to have a treehouse was cool in my book - and it was doubly cool that she got to have it on the whitehouse lawn!)
He has this weird kind of essence to him - of honesty, truth, and righteousness - that no other post-Kennedy president has ever seemed to capture. Reagan was a fake to me, Bush was a policy wonk, Clinton schmoozed charm, and Shrub is Shrub. Let's not go into Nixon.
In addition, his post-Presidential work in Habitat for Humanity is pretty damn cool. My feeling is he's the kind of president we need, despite his fumbles - and as such, not the kind of president that we'll ever get again.