Entries in Betty Ford (4)


Betty Ford Remembered in Michigan; Will Be Buried Alongside Husband

Hulton Archive/Getty Images(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) -- Former first lady Betty Ford will be laid to rest on Thursday next to her husband of 58 years, former President Gerald R. Ford.

On Wednesday, the former first lady's remains were flown to Grand Rapids, Michigan -- the place where she grew up and married the man who would later become the 38th president of the United States.  Her casket was taken to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, where it was put on display, draped with flowers for hundreds to pay their respects in a public viewing.

Ford's remains will be transported by motorcade to Grace Episcopal Church on Thursday where she will be memorialized one last time.  The church is the same one where the Fords wed back in 1948.

Lynne Cheney, the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is among the expected eulogists at Thursday's funeral service.

Following the memorial, Ford's casket will be returned to the presidential museum to be buried alongside her husband, who died in 2006.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Betty Ford Remembered for Love, Social Activism

Hulton Archive/Getty Images(PALM DESERT, Calif.) -- Mourners celebrated the life of Betty Ford Tuesday at St. Margaret's Church in Palm Desert, Calif., calling her a woman who loved God, her family and those she inspired in her work on behalf of those struggling with cancer and addiction.

In a mood of bipartisanship, Rosalynn Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter, first lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- all Democrats -- stood beside former Republican President George W. Bush and former first lady Nancy Reagan.

Reading from Corinthians, her oldest son Michael Gerald said his mother loved dancing, her family and the patients she helped. She loved her husband, the man she called "my boyfriend of 58 years."

Most of the speakers had been handpicked by Ford before her death last week at age 93.

Delivering the first eulogy, former first lady Rosalynn Carter said she had "an excellent role model and a hard act to follow."

"Millions are forever in her debt today because she was never afraid to tell the truth," Carter said. "Betty was my friend."

Others, including presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, Geoffrey Mason, a former director of the Betty Ford Clinic and an alcoholic named "Jeff" who had been helped by Ford's charitable work, paid tribute to the woman who was embraced by a generation of women who were just coming into their own. A social pioneer, Ford spoke openly about sex, cancer and addiction.

Her final wishes were as strong as her opinions and her voice. Ford asked NPR news analyst and ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts to eulogize her and even gave "instructions."

"Mrs. Ford wanted me to remind everyone of the way things used to be in Washington," said Roberts, who as a child was one of the era's "congressional brats."

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if she timed her death to make sure she could convey the message of comity during this week when it seems so badly needed," she writes in her eulogy, which she was polishing up a few hours before the funeral.

Ford was clear about what she wanted Roberts to talk about: the former first lady's life before she became the public face of breast cancer and addiction, when wives helped politicians work together to pass bipartisan legislation.

Gerald R. Ford, a Republican, was House minority leader when Roberts' father, Democratic Rep. Hale Boggs from Louisiana, was majority leader. They had known each other since Ford's election to Congress in 1948.

Boggs died in a plane crash in 1972 and Roberts' mother, Lindy Boggs, who is now 95, took his place in Congress after a special election.

"She wanted me to talk about being friends across the aisle, and how it made it easier to govern," Roberts said. "Political wives were absolutely essential to their relationship."

Unlike today, friendships crossed party lines and wives cemented those ties at parties. "They had the men over to sit down and have a drink and have dinner with each other and behave," Roberts said. "The women got them to be civil."

Clinton and Bush displayed a bit of that bipartisan spirit, engaging in a long and spirited discussion as they waited for the services to begin.

Roberts agrees the timing of her eulogy -- as Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic President Barack Obama have a showdown over raising the debt limit -- is perfect.

Following Tuesday's service, Ford's remains will be flown to Michigan for a public viewing and burial at the presidential museum alongside her husband, former President Gerald R. Ford, who died in 2006.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Private Service to Be Held in California for Betty Ford

Ron Galella Archive/Getty Images(PALM DESERT, Calif.) -- Former first lady Betty Ford, who passed away last Friday from natural causes at the age of 93, will be remembered on Tuesday in a private service in California.

First lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter and Nancy Reagan are all expected to be on hand to pay tribute to Ford, who is best remembered for her White House stay and for making her struggles with breast cancer and substance abuse public.

The service will be held at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert at 2 p.m.  Rosalynn Carter and journalist Cokie Roberts will be among the people who will deliver Ford's eulogies.

On Wednesday, Ford's casket will be flown to Grand Rapids, Michigan where a public memorial and funeral service are scheduled to be held on Thursday.  After Thursday's funeral, she will be laid to rest alongside her husband on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford presidential museum.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Betty Ford Memorials to be Held in Michigan and California

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.) -- Public and private services will be held in California and Michigan for former first lady Betty Ford, who died of natural causes.

She died Friday at the age of 93.

Ford, whose candor and courage touched the nation, will first be remembered in a private service Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where she and President Ford lived after the White House.

On Wednesday, her casket will be flown to Grand Rapids, Mich. where a public memorial and funeral service are scheduled.

Ford's dear friends Lynn Cheney, Cokie Roberts, and Rosalyn Carter, whose husband defeated Gerald Ford in the race for the White House in 1976, will deliver her eulogies.

"The relationship that Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Carter had was one of the deepest and richest of Mrs. Ford's life. It was a wonderful, wonderful friendship. One that was very dear to Mrs. Ford," said Greg Willard, a personal representative of the Ford Family Funeral Service.

Ford impacted lives around the word, making public her struggles with breast cancer and substance abuse and opening the treatment center that bears her name.

"Shame and stigma were significantly reduced and the Betty Ford Center has become a model for effective treatment," Dr. Scott Basinger, associate dean at Baylor College of Medicine, told ABC News Saturday.

"Betty Ford was one of the first public figures to put a face on alcoholism as a disease and she raised awareness of the need for treatment and helped society understand recovery as a lifelong process," Dessa Bergen-Cico, assistant professor of Public Health and Addiction Studies at Syracuse University, told ABC News Saturday.

On Thursday, she will be laid to rest alongside her husband on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford presidential museum.

"Obviously the outpouring for the Ford family is extremely strong. We look forward to welcoming Mrs. Ford home," said Tim Pietryga, a Ford Foundation spokesman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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