President Obama leads tributes to Betty Ford

Monday July 11, 2011

Betty Ford – the widow of former President Gerald Ford and founder of the famous rehabilitation centre – has died at the age of 93.

She passed away on Friday evening with her friends and family by her bedside.

Mrs Ford battled breast cancer and alcohol addiction and helped to raise public awareness on both issues.

In 1982 she founded the Betty Ford Center for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in California, which has helped treat tens of thousands of people.

She was also an outspoken advocate of women’s rights.

Chicago-born Mrs Ford had lived in California since her husband of 58 years – who held the presidency from 1974 until 1977 - died in 2006.

She was considered one of America’s most prolific first ladies.

Following the news of her passing, President Barack Obama said that she had "distinguished herself through her courage and compassion".

"After leaving the White House, Mrs Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment," he added.

"I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford’s death,” another former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement.

She said that Mrs Ford was her husband’s “strength through some very difficult days in our country’s history.”

Photo: © Getty

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