The former First Lady Betty Ford has died at the age of 93 in her California home.
Betty Bloomer Ford was married to Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States. Ford had been raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, spent time in New York City a student of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, modeled and then married twice the second time to a young lawyer just entering politics.
Twenty-eight years were spent living in Washington as Congressman Gerald Ford's wife, raising their four children.
Just weeks after her husband was sworn in as president of the United States in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the new First Lady found out she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy.
In the two and half years she spent as First Lady, she was candid about her opinions and didn't shrink from controversy. Mrs. Ford favored the Equal Rights amendment, was pro-choice, revealed she had seen a psychiatrist, and admitted she would probably try marijuana if she were a teenager.
Suffering from the stress of her public role and the after effects of her illness, Mrs. Ford became hooked on painkilling drugs and alcohol. After leaving the White House, yet still very much in the public eye, she entered a California hospital to kick the habits.
Afterwards, she helped found the Betty Ford Treatment Center, one of America's first prominent facilities devoted to drug and alcohol abuse recovery. Mrs. Ford served as its chairman and spent three or four days a week counseling patients there, work she said contributed to her own sobriety.
Betty Ford's openness turned out to be her greatest gift to her country. Her frail presence at the funeral services for her husband of 58 years, served as a poignant reminder of the woman whose reign as First Lady, while brief and totally unexpected, was remarkable.
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