Betty Ford, beloved former First Lady, has died
Mrs. Ford was known not only for her grace and devotion to her husband, but for her refreshingly frank support of women's issues -- she was pro choice and strongly in favor of the equal rights amendment. She was also much admired for her public courage in facing private struggles. One month after her husband was sworn in as President following Nixon's August 1974 resignation, Mrs. Ford underwent surgery for breast cancer. By taking her disease public, Mrs. Ford encouraged tens of thousands of women to have mammograms. The push for early detection continues today and the number of lives saved has increased dramatically.
Four years later, Mrs. Ford's family did an intervention with her when her addiction to prescription medicine and alcohol became unmanageable. Again, Mrs. Ford rose to the challenge and became the face and voice that created the Betty Ford Center which opened in late 1982. To date, more than 97,000 patients and their families have been healed here.
Mrs. Ford wrote movingly of these experiences in one of her books, Betty: A Glad Awakening (1987).
The former First Lady was 93 years old.