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[UPDATE] First Ladies to Attend Betty Ford's Funeral

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) -- July 12, 2011

Michelle Obama and three former first ladies are among dignitaries heading to Palm Desert for Betty Ford's funeral.

Details of the Tuesday ceremony were planned by Mrs. Ford who died at 93 on Friday.

She chose former first lady Rosalynn Carter and journalist Cokie Roberts to deliver eulogies along with a former director of the Betty Ford Center.

Also expected are Nancy Reagan and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attending with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. The former first lady of California, Maria Schriver, also planned to attend.

A second funeral will be held Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Gerald Ford is buried at his presidential museum.

Speakers are expected to discuss politics, the White House and Mrs. Ford's impact on substance and alcohol abuse treatment.

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Detroit, Michigan (AP) -A family friend says former first lady Betty Ford
has died at age 93.

Marty Allen says Ford, whose battles with cancer and substance
abuse inspired millions to seek treatment, died Friday. Allen did
not say how Betty Ford died. He says he expects the Gerald R. Ford
Presidential Library to release additional information.

Her husband, Gerald, died in December 2006.

The couple married in 1948, the same year he was elected to
Congress. She was thrust into the spotlight in 1974 when he became
president after the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer weeks later and won acclaim for her openness and courage.

Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in the 1976. Mrs. Ford later was
treated for drug and alcohol addiction and then helped found the
Betty Ford Center to help others.

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Obama: Betty Ford Left Legacy of Compassion

Washington, D.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama says former first lady Betty Ford left a legacy of courage, compassion and inspiration to
countless others.

In a White House statement, the president said that as first
lady, Mrs. Ford was a powerful advocate for women's health and
women's rights. In his words, she "distinguished herself through
her courage and compassion."

He noted that after she left the White House, Mrs. Ford helped
reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired
thousands to seek much-needed treatment. Obama said organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.

The president said he and the first lady send their thoughts and
prayers to the Ford children.

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Former Bush Presidents Remember Betty Ford

Dallas, TX (AP) - Former President George Bush called the late Betty
Ford a great friend and courageous first lady.

Bush, the 41st president, and his wife, Barbara, issued a
statement from Kennebunkport, Maine, on Friday after Ford died at
age 93.

Ford overcame drug and alcohol addiction and was the inspiration
for her Betty Ford Center.

The elder Bush said the Ford Center has helped change the lives
of thousands of people and will be "her lasting legacy of care and
concern."

Former President George W. Bush, the 43rd president, said Ford
made countless contributions to the country and was courageous in
calling attention to breast cancer and substance abuse. Bush said
he and his wife, Laura, were deeply saddened by Ford's death.

Carters Praise Late Betty Ford for Candor, Work

Atlanta, GA - Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife
Rosalynn have praised the late former first lady Betty Ford as "a
remarkable political spouse" who improved mental health and
substance abuse care and spoke her mind.

In a statement Friday after Ford died at age 93, the Carters
said: "Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of Betty Ford, a
close personal friend and our frequent partner in bipartisan
efforts to improve mental health and substance abuse care in our
nation."

The statement went on to say that Betty Ford's "courageous
candor helped forge a new era of openness after the divisiveness of
the Vietnam War and Watergate." They also called Ford a "tireless
advocate for women's rights and social justice."

Carter defeated then-President Gerald Ford in 1976, but the
Carters and Fords later became friends. Gerald Ford, the nation's
38th president, died in 2006 at age 93.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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