Mourners Say Final Farewell to Betty Ford

Posted July 14th, 2011 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Family, friends and admirers have said a final farewell to former U.S. first lady Betty Ford, who died last week at the age of 93.

Mrs. Ford, an outspoken advocate for women's rights and those battling addiction, was memorialized Thursday in the Michigan church where she married Gerald Ford more than six decades ago. Former president Bill Clinton and former first lady Barbara Bush were in attendance, as well as former vice president Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney.

Mrs. Cheney remembered the former first lady as a woman with style and courage, saying she changed lives for the better or saved lives through her efforts to fight breast cancer and addiction.

Mrs. Ford is to be laid to rest Thursday next to her husband, on what would have been his 98th birthday, on the grounds of the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Her flower-draped casket arrived Wednesday night in her hometown of Grand Rapids, where hundreds of people participated in a procession and public viewing.

Earlier this week, mourners paid tribute to Mrs. Ford at a service in Palm Desert, California. Those in attendance included U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and former president George W. Bush.

As first lady from 1974 to 1977, Mrs. Ford became known for her candor, famously discussing women's rights, premarital sex and abortion in a television interview. She was diagnosed with breast cancer while at the White House, and became a champion for breast cancer research and awareness.

After leaving the White House, she acknowledged and sought treatment for an addiction to alcohol and painkillers. In 1982, she co-founded the Betty Ford Center in California, still one of the most well-known and well-regarded treatment centers for substance abuse.

Mr. Ford, who died in 2006, was her second husband. The two wed shortly before he was elected to Congress in 1948. He became vice president in 1973 after the resignation of Spiro Agnew — and became president in 1974 after the Watergate scandal led president Richard Nixon to resign.