Churm was Gerald R. Ford’s history teacher and track coach at South High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ford once wrote, "Pop Churm was the very best. He epitomized character, compassion, leadership and patriotism. Pop was loved, respected and followed because he always stood tall and strong for what was right." (Quote courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum).
The portrait was commissioned as a gift to South High School by its 1935 graduating class. A portrait of the school's principal, Arthur W. Krause, (MIFP1047) was painted as a companion painting.