Betty Ford, 1918 - Elizabeth Anne Bloomer Ford was born on 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, here she graduated from high school. She studied Modern Dance at Bennington College in Vermont. She then went to New York and joined Martha Graham's concert group as well as working as a model for the John Roberts Powers firm. Ford eventually went back to Grand Rapids and became a fashion coordinator in a department store. She also organized a dance group and taught dance to handicapped children. Her first marriage had ended after five years, but Betty married Gerald Ford in 1948, becoming an active supporter in his campaign. She did not plan on being the First Lady, it came as something of a surprise but she met the challenge head on, speaking out on controversial subjects such as the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1974, Ford underwent surgery for breast cancer and spoke about her struggle with the disease, hoping that, as First Lady, she could make the world more aware of the plight of women. She also spoke of her own dependence on alcohol and drugs and helped establish the Betty Ford Center, a place for people to go who wanted to recover from drug and alcohol abuse. She has written her own memoirs, "Betty: A Glad Awakening" as well as books on drug abuse and books about being a part of American History. Betty Ford died July, 8, 2011.
Lori Chambers is a professor in the Department of Women's Studies at Lakehead University.