Monday, July 8, 2013

Remembering Betty Ford April 8, 1918 - July 8, 2011

Elizabeth Ann Bloomer Warren "Betty" Ford was the First Lady of the United States of America from 1974-77 during the presidency of her late husband, Gerald Ford.  She created precedents as a politically active wife. From the age of 2, Betty lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan where dance became her passion including tap, ballet, and modern dance. Following dance training at Bennington School of Dance in Vermont, Betty moved to New York and worked as a fashion model.  She would eventually return to Grand Rapids to become a fashion coordinator for a local department store. 

In 1942, she married Gerald Ford and the two were married for 58 years. She had previously been married for five years to William Warren.

Betty was very much involved in social policy and maintained high approval ratings by many but was sometimes criticized by conservatives for her somewhat liberal agenda. She gained fame for often being very candid on issues.  She was an outspoken advocate of equal rights.

Betty Ford battled alcoholism and with her family's urging, she sought help for her addiction. She used her addiction to eventually help thousands of others fighting addiction through her treatment facility known as the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. 

She was an author having written several works including "Betty: A Glad Awakening" and "Healing and Hope."

Betty received the Presidential Medal of Freedom along with her husband and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1998.

She died at the age of 93 from heart failure on July 8, 2011.

Her funeral was attended by over 800 people including George W. Bush, First Lady Michelle Obama and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Rosalynn Carter and Cokie Roberts delivered the eulogy.  Her casket was then flown to Grand Rapids where a second funeral was held with a eulogy delivered by Lynne Cheney.

She was then laid to rest beside her husband in a tomb at the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The Betty Ford funeral collection was given to me by friend and funeral director Bob Boetticher who was the funeral director in charge of the service (pictured with casket).

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