Tribute to Mrs. Betty Ford

- View Pictures from the Remembrance Week -

On July 8, 2011, Mrs. Betty Ford passed away at 93 years of age. She died peacefully at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. Soon after her passing, preparations began for a Remembrance Week honoring a beloved First Lady and founder of the Betty Ford Center.

The Palm Springs Service was held at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California on July 12. Eulogist included Cokie Roberts, Geoff Mason and Rosalynn Carter. The Ford Family was joined by Friends from the area, as well as by former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, former First Lady Nancy Reagan and former First Lady of California Maria Shriver.

After the Church Service, Mrs. Ford’s casket and the Ford Family were flown to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Upon arrival to “Betty’s Hometown”, the Funeral Procession traveled to the Gerald R. Ford Museum for a Prayer Service with Family and Friends. Afterwards, Mrs. Ford’s casket lay in repose throughout the evening and following morning. Thousands traveled to the Museum to pay their final respects to one of America’s most beloved First Lady.

Family & Friends gathered at Grace Episcopal Church for a Service in East Grand Rapids on July 14, 2011. Grace Church was the same place Gerald and Betty were married in October of 1948. Eulogists included Lynne Cheney, Richard Norton Smith and Steve Ford. Guests included former First Lady Barbara Bush, former Vice President Dick & Lynne Cheney, former President Bill Clinton, Amb. of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki, former Gerald Ford White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense Don & Joyce Rumsfeld, former Gerald Ford National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft and Historian Richard Norton Smith.

Mrs. Betty Ford’s interment at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum joined Betty with Gerald at the gravesite. Though the Remembrance Week has concluded, Betty Ford’s Legacy will continue for generations and years to come.

Throughout the Remembrance Week, thousands paid respect to her legacy by providing memorial tributes including flowers, candle, cards and gifts. Condolence books were also available at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, MI & at the Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, MI.

A Celebrtion of the Life of Elizabeth Bloomer Ford
April 8, 1918 – July 8, 2011Tuesday, July 12, 2011
St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church
Palm Desert, CaliforniaThursday, July 14, 2011
Grace Episcopal Church
East Grand Rapids, Michigan
Tribute Card
Front & Back

Funeral Service of Elizabeth Bloomer FordSt. Margaret’s Episcopal Church
Palm Desert, CaliforniaGrace Episcopal Church
East Grand Rapids, Michigan



Cokie Roberts

When Mrs. Ford assigned me the daunting honor of speaking at her funeral, it will surprise none of you to learn that the assignment came with instructions. Mrs. Ford wanted me to remind everyone of the way things used to be in Washington.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she timed her death to make sure she could convey the message of comity during this week when it seems so badly needed.

A couple of months ago when the statue of President Ford was unveiled in the regal, though republican Rotunda of the United States Capitol, the Ford Children recalled happily their days playing hide and seek under the watchful gaze of George Washington in heaven high above. Continue Reading…


Geoff Mason

Well, Betty . . . We’re all here now. Some of us here have been working toward this day for quite some time, as you know. That’s what happens when you’re the First Family.

People have to be ready. Ready to honor you in just the right way. Ready to remember you in just the right way. Ready to describe our memories of you in just the right way. Ready to pray for you, and your family, in just the right way.

But many of us here today . . . I dare say MOST of us here today . . . Have no recollection at all of you as part of the First Family. Or – perish the thought – of you as First Lady. Continue Reading…



Rosalynn Carter

Betty Ford was my friend…and I am honored to be here today to help celebrate the life of this truly remarkable woman.

I never imagined when we first met forty years ago that we would develop such a close personal friendship. At the time, Betty was the wife of the vice president of the United States, she had danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company and performed in Carnegie Hall. I knew she was a leader in the fight for women’s rights. And she had come to Georgia with the Michigan Art Train, a project taking six cars filled with great art to rural communities across the country.

Jimmy was governor, and we invited Betty to stay at the Governor’s Mansion. I was nervous. She was the most distinguished guest we had ever entertained. But when she arrived, she was so warm and friendly, that she immediately put me at ease, and we had a good time together. Of course, I didn’t tell her then that my husband was thinking of running for president! Continue Reading…


Lynne Cheney

Reverend Holmgren, honored guests, Jack, Mike, Steve, and Susan, and all of Mrs. Ford’s family and friends—In these last few days, so much as been written about Betty Ford, and the words have been wonderful and true. Yet still they are sad to hear, because they are also meant as a goodbye to one of the finest, dearest people any of us has ever known. For each one of us, what a joy it was that Betty Ford was a part of our lives.

The last time the nation saw Mrs. Ford, she was here in Grand Rapids on that long day when we laid her husband to rest. From then on, she was content to go her way and live out the days left to her in the company of a few friends and her loving children and grandchildren. But she remained among the most admired women in the world. Public life was behind her, but Mrs. Ford’s reputation wasn’t the kind that needed cultivating. Just the mention of her name brings good and hopeful things to mind. Continue Reading…


Richard Norton Smith

“To be remembered with joy,” Betty Ford once wrote, “has to be a kind of immortality.” In her ninety-three years Mrs. Ford imparted more than her share of joy. Her sense of fun was never sharper than when cutting through the gloom of self-absorption or disappointment. Not long after leaving the White House in January, 1977, she and the President found themselves on a plane bound for Houston and a dinner honoring the legendary Coach Vince Lombardi. It was exactly the sort of roadshow event Congressman, Vice President, and President Ford had graced thousands of times over thirty well traveled years.

And yet it was different, for tonight he was coming as Citizen Ford – a honorable title, to be sure, though one he would have gladly postponed in exchange for another four years in the Oval Office. As they neared their destination, Gerald Ford indulged in some very uncharacteristic brooding. He had accepted the group’s invitation while still residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He hoped his audience wouldn’t feel let down, he said, hearing from a mere ex-president.

Cue Mrs. Ford, exuding sympathy while offering reassurance. “Don’t worry, honey,” she told her husband. “It’s me they’re coming to see anyway.”
Continue Reading…