Outspoken equal rights advocate, pioneer for women’s health awareness, progressively thinking First Lady, and a leader in the area of addiction and dependency treatment; All of these things describe who Betty Ford was throughout her life. She is perhaps best known for her work treating alcoholism and addiction at the treatment center she opened, the Betty Ford Clinic, which to date has helped more than 90,000 people overcome their addictions.
Betty Ford, First Lady and wife to President Gerald Ford, shocked the world when she left the White House in order to receive treatment for her addiction to alcohol. She spoke candidly about her alcoholism and paved the way for other addicts to not be ashamed about their disease and seek treatment.
The New York Times reports on her death at age 93 and all of the many accomplishments she achieved during her lifetime. During and after her husband’s term in office she was very vocal about women’s rights, reproductive rights, and alcoholism awareness. Mrs. Ford also raised awareness about breast cancer by speaking openly about her own battle with the disease during a time when most women did not.
Ford explained why she felt the need to have a strong voice during President Ford’s time in the White House. Mrs. Ford said, “When I came to Washington I saw my job as a supporting wife and mother. But I came to feel an emptiness in spite of the fact I was happy. The old term housewife just didn't seem right. That's when I looked for support in my thinking that there must be something more than that. And indeed there is.”
How do you best remember First Lady Betty Ford?
I think, in many ways, her legacy as first lady will outlive that of her husband! I love that she had the courage to break new ground by sharing her personal convictions and battles.