Elizabeth Betty Ford – 38th First Lady of United States of America – Wife of President Gerald Ford – 1918 CE – 2011 CE

Elizabeth Ann Betty Ford, was the First lady of the United States, as the wife of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Elizabeth Betty Ford was active in social policy and created precedents as First Lady.

Elizabeth Betty Ford was noted for raising breast cancer awareness following her mastectomy. She was also passionate supporter and activist for, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). As a leader in the Women’s Movement, she gained fame as the most candid first ladies in history. Elizabeth Betty Ford was the first First lady, when she announced her long-running battle with alcoholism and substance abuse. Elizabeth Betty Ford was the founder the Betty Ford Centre for addiction and substance abuse. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – 38th First Lady of USA

Elizabeth Betty Ford – Early Life

Elizabeth Anne was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 8, 1918. Betty Ford was the third child and only daughter of Wiiliam Bloomer and Hortense Neahr. Her father worked for the Royal Rubber Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan; her mother was related to a wealthy Grand Rapids furniture manufacturing family.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – Early Days

Elizabeth Betty Ford was enrolled at Calla Travis Dance Studio in Grand Rapids, where she studied ballet, tap and modern movement. Dance became a passion and she decided to pursue it as a career. At 14, Elizabeth Betty Ford taught younger children. While still in High school, she opened her own dance school teaching children and adults.

When Elizabeth Betty Ford was 16, her father died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the family garage while working under their car. After graduating from high school, she spent two summers at the Bennington School of dance. To pay for her lessons, she worked as a model at a Grand Rapid department store.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – Marriage And Family

In 1942, Elizabeth Betty Ford married William C. Warren, a furniture salesman. Warren had a series of jobs in different cities, often as traveling salesman and Betty sometimes worked as a department saleswoman and model in cities in cities where they lived. Warren was an alcoholic and in poor health. After three years she realized the marriage wasn’t going to work. She wanted a home, family and children and grew tired of the couple’s itinerant lifestyle.

In 1947, Elizabeth Betty Ford married Gerald Ford, a lawyer and a U.S. Navy lieutenant. As Ford built his Congressional career, winning re-election 13 times and rising to the position of House Minority Leader, Betty assumed the traditional responsibilities of a father as well as mother to their four children. Elizabeth Betty Ford also became involved with charity organizations and volunteer work.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – First Lady

On December 6, 1973, Gerald Ford was appointed Vice President under Richard Nixon. On August 9, 1974, in an unprecedented move, Richard resigned from office under pressure from the Watergate scandal. Under United States Law, Ford became the 38th President of the United States.

Elizabeth Betty Ford became known for dancing to disco music at informal White House events. She chatted on her CB radio under the call name “First Mama”.

Weeks after Elizabeth Betty Ford became First Lady, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ford underwent a mastectomy, and her openness about her illness raised visibility for a disease that Americans had previously been reluctant to discuss.

Elizabeth Betty Ford with President Gerald Ford

In the context of the traditional hostess role, she was also innovative. Elizabeth Betty Ford employed various types of innovative American crafts as centerpieces, ranging from Steuben glass to Native American reed baskets, antique tablecloths and candle-holders made from wooden spools used at an historic New England textile mill.

Elizabeth Betty Ford supported the Equal Right Amendment and lobbied state legislature to ratify the amendment. She also became a strong advocate for a women’s right to free choice in many decision that affected their lives. As a result of her efforts, TIME magazine called her country’s “Fighting First Lady” and named her woman of the year in 1975.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – Life After The White House

Since the early 1960s, Betty Ford had been taking opiod analgesics for pain. Elizabeth Betty Ford was addicted to these drugs and alcohol. In 1982, after her recovery, she established the Betty Ford Centre for the treatment of chemical dependency including treating of the children of alcoholics. For many years, she actively participated in helping individual patients and counseling those whom she could provide special perspective. Beyond the Betty Ford Center, she became an activist for improving the nation’s attitude and education.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – Later Life And Honors

In 1987, Elizabeth Betty Ford published a book about her treatment entitled Betty: A Glad awakening. In 2003, Ford produced another book, Healing and Hope: six Women from the Betty Ford Center Share Their Powerful Journeys of Addiction and Recovery.

In 1991, Elizabeth Betty Ford was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush. She was also awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 1999. Elizabeth Betty Ford also received the Woodrow Wilson Award in 2003, for her public service.

Elizabeth Betty Ford – Death  

Elizabeth Betty Ford died of natural causes on July 8, 2011, at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage aged 93. On July 13, her casket was flown to Grand Rapids. After the service, Elizabeth Betty Ford was buried next to her husband on the Gerald Ford Museum grounds.

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