Betty Ford was a former First Lady of the
United States (August 9th, 1974 - January 20th, 1977).
She was the wife of President Gerald R. Ford,
the 38th President of the United States.
Her own battle with breast cancer led to her
advocacy for early breast cancer detection.
Mrs. Ford also co-founded the Betty Ford Center
for the treatment of chemical dependency.
Biographical fast facts
Full, original or maiden name at birth: Elizabeth Ann Bloomer *
Date, time and place of birth: April 8, 1918,
at 3:46 p.m., Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. **
Date, place and cause of death: July 8, 2011, Eisenhower Medical Center, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.A. (Complications from a stroke)
Spouse: William "Bill" Warren (m. 1942 - September 22, 1947) (divorced)
Wedding took place at 636 Fountain Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
Spouse: Gerald Ford (m. October 15, 1948 - December 26, 2006) (his death)
Wedding took place just after 4 p.m., at Grace Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
Sons: Michael Gerald Ford (b. March 14, 1950, Washington, D.C.)
John Gardner Ford (known as Jack Ford) (b. March 16, 1952, at about 1 a.m., Washington, D.C.)
Steven Meigs Ford (b. May 19, 1956)
Daughter: Susan Elizabeth Ford (b. July 6, 1957)
Father: William Stephenson Bloomer (a traveling salesman)
(b. July 19, 1874, Indiana - d. 1934, Grand Rapids,
Michigan, of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning)
Mother: Hortense (Neahr) Bloomer (d. November 20, 1948,
at 6 a.m., Hollywood, Florida, of a cerebral hemorrhage) ***
Burial site: Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan,
(NOTE: A few sources erroneously reported
she was buried in Palm Springs, California,
while others claimed her final resting place
was in Palm Desert, California.)
Error corrections or clarifications
* Several sources, including Encyclopedia Britannica misspell
Betty Ford's middle name "Anne" when, in point of fact,
it's spelled Ann. Mrs. Ford confirms numerous times throughout
her autobiographies that it's spelled Ann.
** "April 18, 1918" is erroneously reported as
Mrs. Ford's date of birth by some sources. The
above April 8th date is the d.o.b. the former
First Lady herself reports as her birth date.
*** A few sources erroneously report her father committed
suicide. Mrs. Ford specifically addresses the fact that her
father's death was accidental in her autobiography: "Then,
the year I was sixteen, my father died of carbon monoxide
poisoning. He had gone out to the garage to work on the car;
it was a summer day, very overcast, very humid. The garage
doors were open, he had the engine running, and he'd got
under the car to fiddle with something. A couple of friends
from Detroit had stopped by the house to visit and Mother
went out to the garage to get Dad to come in, and she found
him. The ignition was on, but the motor wasn't running any
more. The car must have run out of gas, and the air was so
NOTE: Her mother's first name is spelled Hortense, not
"Hortence" as a couple of sources erroneously report.
Again, the former First Lady herself reports Hortense is
the proper spelling of her mother's name.
Biography - Residences of Betty Ford
Elizabeth Ann Bloomer was born in Chicago,
Illinois. At age two, her family moved to
Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she would
spend the remainder of her early years. As
was common for many young girls, Betty was
enrolled in dance classes at the age of eight.
Though she was a tomboy who relentlessly
tagged along with her two older brothers,
Bill Bloomer, Jr. and Bob Bloomer, it wasn't
long before she'd developed a true passion
for dance. She was only 14 when she began
giving dance lessons. She continued as a
dance instructor in Grand Rapids until 1939.
The next two years Betty spent in New York City,
studying dance with the legendary Martha Graham
and eventually became a member of one of
Martha Graham's dance groups. At the request
of her mother, she returned to Grand Rapids.
She resumed teaching dance and was the fashion
coordinator at a local department store.
In 1942, she married Bill Warren, with whom
she'd attended her first dance at age twelve.
The marriage ended in divorce just five years
Within a year of their divorce, she met and married
a lawyer and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander by the
name of Gerald Ford. The quiet life in Grand Rapids
she envisioned as the wife of an attorney was not to
be. Just two weeks after their marriage, Jerry was
elected to his first term as a U.S. Congressman
representing Michigan's Fifth Congressional District.
He went on to serve a total of 13 terms until his
resignation from the House of Representatives,
December 6th, 1973, to become the fortieth Vice
President of the United States. President Nixon
selected Gerald Ford, the minority leader of the
House, to replace scandal-plagued Vice President
Spiro T. Agnew.
By this point in time, the Ford clan had expanded
to include three sons and one daughter. Just eight
months after Ford's appointment, President Richard
Nixon resigned the presidency in the midst of the
Watergate scandal. Betty became the First Lady, and
her husband was sworn in as the 38th President of
the United States.
In 1974, shortly after becoming First Lady,
Mrs. Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer and
underwent a radical mastectomy. Rather than hide
her struggle with the disease from public view,
the First Lady was very open about her experiences.
Her battle with cancer led to her advocacy for
increased awareness of the importance of early
breast cancer detection. Betty was credited with
saving lives by prompting women around the country
to seek breast exams.
Following her recovery from years of alcohol and
prescription drug abuse, Mrs. Ford co-founded the Betty
Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, in 1982,
for the treatment of chemical dependency. Thanks to
her tireless work, the Betty Ford Center became one
of the best known, most respected alcohol and drug
abuse treatment facilities in the world. The former
First Lady was not merely a figurehead at the facility,
but was an active, hands-on Chairman of the Board of
Directors of the Betty Ford Center. Since its founding,
popular singers, actors, sports legends and other
celebrities, as well as ordinary citizens, have sought
to overcome their addictions at the premier treatment
Throughout her life as a U.S. Congressman's wife,
the wife of the Vice President, then as First Lady,
she spoke openly and honestly on all subjects. Her
unflagging candor occasionally generated controversy
in the press, but the public always appreciated her
willingness to speak frankly on subjects most in
the political arena avoid like the plague. As she
had in the past, Betty Ford talked openly about her
recovery from substance abuse. This led to far
greater understanding of the subject by the general
public, and a willingness to confront and overcome
an issue which had long been swept under the rug.
Mrs. Ford wrote her autobiography The Times of My Life
published in 1978, and a follow up autobiography
Betty: A Glad Awakening (1987). The latter delved more
deeply into her alcoholism and drug dependency and
recounted the entire process of her recovery.
In October 1999, President and Mrs. Ford were awarded
the Congressional Gold Medal for "dedicated public
service and outstanding humanitarian contributions."
Her husband died December 26th, 2006,
at 6:45 p.m., at their desert home in
Rancho Mirage, California.
In recognition of her many contributions to
Vail Valley and the world beyond, the world's
highest botanic garden, the Betty Ford Alpine
Gardens in Vail, Colorado, were named in her
honor. The internationally renowned gardens
are located high in the Rocky Mountains and
offer a stunning display of rare high altitude
plants, wildflowers, waterfalls and rock
gardens. In 2007, a daylily that was named
for her, bloomed for the first time at the
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. The exquisite new
red daylily, Hemerocallis Betty Ford or the
Betty Ford Daylily, was developed by David
Kirchhoff to honor Betty Ford and her effort
to educate the public about breast cancer
following her successful battle with the
disease. The Fords were beloved part-time
residents of Vail, and consequently, a number
of other facilities in the area were named
in their honor.
In August 2007, the former First Lady made her
first public appearance since her husband's
funeral to celebrate the release of a new
U.S. postage stamp honoring Pres. Gerald R. Ford.
Mrs. Ford died July 8, 2011, at the Eisenhower
Medical Center, in Rancho Mirage, California.
Residences of Betty Ford:
Note that these residences may no longer exist, and it's
possible the addresses have changed over the years.
This is not to suggest that Mrs. Ford owned each and
every one of these structures. We're only reporting the
fact that she called them home at one point or another in
Ground floor apartment on the corner of Washington and Prospect,
Grand Rapids, Michigan
636 Fountain St., Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
2500 Q Street, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
514 Crown View Drive, Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A.
1624 Sherman, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
40365 Sand Dune Road, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.A.
The most in-depth of more than four dozen
sources consulted in preparing this
Betty Ford: The Times of My Life, (Mrs. Ford's 1978 autobiography written with Chris Chase)
A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, (1979)
Jerry Ford: Up Close, by Bud Vestal (1974)
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