You served, even when you didn't want to, with conviction and persistence--and always with vibrancy.
You stood up for women and gave example to speaking your mind.
You carried yourself with dignity and grace always as a wife, mother, dancer and First Lady in sickness and in health.
You are a credit to Michigan par excellence.
|Betty Ford expressing her support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment on February 26, 1975 in Hollywood, Fl.|
She didn't want to be a politician's wife, but did it anyway. As First Lady to President Gerald Ford, she did it with style.
Gerald Ford served as a congressman from western Michigan 1949-73, which included 8 years as minority leader.
He was vice president 1973-74 and became president 1974-77.
First Lady Betty Ford and Prince Philip dance during the state dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, July 7, 1976.
|Official White House portrait|
From David Hume Kennerly, White House Photographer during Ford Administration
"I’ve taken millions of photos during my career, but a hands-down favorite is a shot I took of Betty Ford during her last full day as first lady, on Jan. 19, 1977. Like Mrs. Ford herself, the picture is unique. It goes straight to the heart of who and how she was.
"I was accompanying Mrs. Ford as she strolled around the West Wing of the White House. I took pictures as she said goodbye to the staff members who had worked for her husband, President Gerald R. Ford.
"As she finished her brief tour of the executive offices, we passed by the Cabinet Room. Mrs. Ford poked her head in for one last look. Nobody was there. A mischievous grin appeared on her face; a look I had seen many times, one that usually spelled trouble of the delightful variety. “You know,” she said, “I’ve always wanted to dance on the Cabinet Room table.” I instinctively reached for my camera. This was no idle threat.
"The first lady removed her shoes, bounced up on a chair, then gracefully leaped onto the middle of the oblong table. She deftly dodged the meticulously placed ashtrays and notepads. The Martha Graham dancer inside her unfolded. Mrs. Ford stood dead center beneath the chandeliers, one hand on her hip, the other extended forward. It was a real ta-da! moment. I fired off a few frames. As quickly as she had gone up, she came down, put on her shoes, brushed her hands together and said, “I think that about does it.”
years later Betty Ford would divorce William Warren and started a relationship with Gerald Ford that led to them getting married in 1948. Gerald Ford would become Vice President in 1973 and ten months later when President Richard Nixon resigned from office, Ford became president. (He was the one and only president to hail from Michigan.) Unfortunately, Betty Ford struggled with painkillers and alcohol that led her to treatment which led to a lifelong advocacy for those who suffered from substance abuse including the creation of the Betty Ford Center. Betty Ford is survived by her children and grandchildren.
|At the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids in 2000|