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RIP former first lady, Betty Ford.

Posted by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 10:00 PM
  • 1 Replies


Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93

Acknowledgement of addiction to alcohol, pain pills was groundbreaking

Image: Betty Ford watches husband being sworn in as president
Afp  /  AFP/Getty Images
Betty Ford watches on Aug. 10, 1974, as President Gerald Ford is sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger in Washington, D.C.
NBC, and news services NBC, and news services
updated 2 hours 11 minutes ago 2011-07-09T01:47:09

Betty Ford, the former first lady whose triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center, died Friday. She was 93.

Ford, the wife of the late President Gerald Ford, was taken to Eisenhower Medical Center near her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where she passed away, Lee Rice, a spokesman for the hospital, told NBC News.

Nancy Reagan was among the first to mourn her passing.

"I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford's death," the wife of the late President Ronald Reagan said in a statement. "She has been an inspiration to so many through her efforts to educate women about breast cancer and her wonderful work at the Betty Ford Center. She was Jerry Ford's strength through some very difficult days in our country's history, and I admired her courage in facing and sharing her personal struggles with all of us."

Betty Ford was thrust into the spotlight in 1974 when her husband became president after the resignation of President Richard Nixon. She remained one of the country's most admired women even after the Fords left the White House in 1977.

During the tumult of the post-Watergate era, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy soon after her husband became president.

In 1978, she was hospitalized and said she had become addicted to drugs and alcohol she took for painful arthritis and a pinched nerve in her neck.

Four years later, she founded the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, a substance abuse facility.

Former President Ford, who died in 2006, was appointed vice president by Nixon in 1973, days after Spiro Agnew resigned over a scandal.

The following year, Ford ascended to the presidency after Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal, but he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976 when he sought a full-term in the office.

Much of President Ford's partial term was dedicated to calming a tense nation in a turbulent time that included the end of the Vietnam war and various economic challenges.

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Candor, wit, courage
During and after her years in the White House, 1974 to 1977, Mrs. Ford won acclaim for her candor, wit and courage as she fought breast cancer, severe arthritis and the twin addictions of drugs and alcohol. She also pressed for abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment.

But it was her Betty Ford Center, a desert oasis that rescued celebrities and ordinary people from addiction, that made her famous in her own right. She was modest about that accomplishment.

"People who get well often say, 'You saved my life,' and 'You've turned my life around,'" she recalled. "They don't realize we merely provided the means for them to do it themselves and that's all.

"That's a God-given gift as far as I'm concerned. I don't take any credit for providing anything that wasn't provided to me."

After the former president died Dec. 26, 2006, at age 93, his widow said: "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country." They had been married in 1948, the same year he was elected to Congress.

As she and their children led the nation in mourning him, Americans were reminded anew of her own contributions, as well as his. It was calculated then that the Betty Ford Center had treated 76,000 people.

"It's hard to imagine a more important figure in the substance abuse field than Mrs. Ford," Rick Rawson, associate director of the integrated substance abuse program at the University of California at Los Angeles, said at the time.

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by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 10:00 PM
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by Ruby Member on Jul. 9, 2011 at 2:35 AM

 Aw.  She was sweet; she had her share of troubles, but she was always a LADY.  I admired her. 

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