Former First Lady Betty Ford Dies at Age 93

By Eleanor Barkhorn

Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, died Friday at the age of 93. Her family was at her bedside when she died, according to her biographer. No further details were released.

As the New York Times obituary reports, Ford will be remembered not only as an outspoken, popular First Lady, but also as the founder of the Betty Ford Center, an addiction rehabilitation clinic in California:

Few first ladies have been as popular as Betty Ford, and it was her frankness and lack of pretense that made her so. She spoke often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorsed legalized abortion, discussed premarital sex and revealed that she intended to share a bed with her husband in the White House.

When her husband's voice failed him the morning after he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976, it was she who read the official concession statement with smiling grace. And when Mr. Ford died in December 2006, it was Mrs. Ford who announced his death. The subsequent six days of national mourning returned her to a spotlight she had tried to avoid in her later years, living in Rancho Mirage, Calif., a golf community southeast of Palm Springs, and tending to her clinic there, the Betty Ford Center.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/07/former-first-lady-betty-ford-dies-at-age-93/241662/