Betty Ford, wife of former US President Gerald Ford, died July 8, 2011. She was 93.
The Fords moved into the White House in 1974. During that summer, President Richard Nixon resigned as president due to accusations of improper conduct and the threat of a criminal investigation. He was the only US president to ever resign. His vice-president, Gerald Ford, took his role as president.
Betty Ford was a first lady who changed many parts of America. She was well loved by both the press and the country.
She stood for many things. Some are still topics that cause disagreements. She believed in a womanís right to decide to abort an unborn baby. She was a feminist, or someone who fought for laws ensuring equal rights for women.
Betty Ford had breast cancer during her time as First Lady. In a time when many people didnít talk about cancer, and especially not breast cancer, Betty Ford made her illness public. She talked openly about her mastectomy (an operation that removes the cancerous breast before the disease can spread). She once laughed that, after her surgery, people tried to figure out which breast was real and which was fake. She encouraged other women to go for examinations that would tell them if they had cancer. Many people believe that she saved countless lives because of her openness. Women with cancer used her as a role model for bravery.
For all of her strength, Betty Ford also became great because of her weakness. She became addicted to alcohol and pain pills. She didnít consider herself an alcoholic because she never looked messy and didnít slur her words. Only after her family sat her down and talked to her about the problem did she admit that she even had one.
After her recovery, she founded the Betty Ford Clinic, a place where others could go for counseling and treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse. Many famous people have received help there. Stevie Nicks, Maria Shriver, Michael Moore and Kimora Lee Simmons are just a few of the celebrities who have received help there. But, just as importantly, many every-day people have gone there to get well, too. Over 90,000 people have gone to The Betty Ford Clinic to get past their need for drugs or alcohol.
Betty Ford was a woman who used her position as First Lady of the United States to make a real difference in the world. She will be missed by the whole country.