Sunday, April 14, 2024

Betty Ford passes


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(CNN) — Betty Ford conquered her own addiction to help save the lives of others, a legacy that her family said Saturday tempered the loss of a mother who left a deep void.
“Mother’s love, candor, devotion and laughter enriched our lives and the lives of the millions she touched,” the family said today in a written statement. “To be in her presence was to know the warmth of a truly great lady.”
Ford, a former first lady and co-founder of an eponymous addiction center in California, died yesterday at the Eisenhower Medical Center, according to Matt McLogan, a spokesman with the Gerald R. Ford Foundation. She was 93.
James Cannon, a former aide in the Ford administration and noted Ford biographer, called the first lady a model political wife.
“No finer tribute could have been made, than the one by her husband who said, and I quote, ‘When the final tally is taken her contribution to our country will be bigger than mine,” Cannon said.


Gerald Ford died in December 2006. He was also 93.
Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the first lady’s foundations listed on her website, the statement said.
Betty Ford made headlines soon after becoming first lady in 1974, holding news conferences and publicly discussing her diagnosis with breast cancer.
She spoke candidly about hot-button issues like abortion, pre-marital sex and equal rights in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 1975 — the same year Newsweek named her “Woman of the Year.”
Her frankness initially drew some criticism, but soon, 75% of Americans approved of her in public opinion polls, according to the Ford library and museum’s website.
But in 1978, just over a year after leaving the White House, Ford made headlines of a different sort. Confronted by her family about her alcohol and prescription painkiller abuse, she entered the Long Beach Naval Hospital to seek treatment.
That same year, she published the first of two autobiographies, titled “The Times of My Life.”
Ford would go on to become a high-profile example of substance abuse issues and was a tireless advocate for drug- and alcohol-abuse treatment.
“My addiction was a combination of alcohol and the prescription drugs that … both were a part of my life, but they did not become a problem until they overrode my common sense,” Ford told CNN in 2003. “I didn’t know what was happening, I just knew that I felt great and the pain was gone.”
She wanted others to be rid of their pain as well, and in October 1982, she and friend Leonard Firestone opened the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. To this day, the center remains one of the most well-known and respected places nationwide for treatment of alcoholism and other drug dependencies.
Ford also fought to promote awareness and research on breast cancer, with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation eventually naming an award in her honour.


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