Betty Ford

I was sorry to read of the death of Betty Ford.  When I lived in the USA, while studying at the University of Pennsylvania, it was during the Ford presidency.  (Indeed, President Ford was the speaker at my graduation ceremony.)   I recall the occasion when Betty Ford had to be rushed into hospital with breast cancer.  She overcame adversity (she became addicted to prescription drugs) and was one of the few First Ladies to have a lasting legacy of her own.   She benefited from a remarkable husband who was dedicated and down to earth, with a splendid self-deprecating sense of humour.  I remember him giving a speech in Philadelphia, stumbling through it (he was no orator) and stopping half-way through to declare: ‘I told Betty before I gave this speech that I knew it backwards – and that seems to be how I am delivering it’.  

They were a dedicated couple who left the White House a better place for their work.


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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4 Responses to Betty Ford

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,

    I appreciate your kind words about Fomer First Lady Betty Ford. I spoke with, then former, President Ford when he came to Lafayette, Louisiana to speak at the Heyman Center. I was the only guest of my grandparents Chief Justice and Mrs. Frank W Summers (of the Louisiana judiciary). Mrs. Ford was not in evidence and I presume she was not there. However, her struggle with the life lived in American political families, her work to assist alcoholics and other addicts who held high profile positions in this country and to join her husband in bringing about a more honest style of political family life were all manifestations of her which I admired. That she died on the day of the last shuttle launch is poignant to me as the Space Transport Sysytem was a Nixon program.

    Her husband’s statue was unveiled in the Capitol rotunda not so very long ago and her children (in televised speeches and interviews) told stories that made one believe she had succeeded in creating a successful home despite her struggles with chemical dependency. A great athlete famous for bodily stumbling as President. The only President not elected to any nationwide office (we only have three :Pres., VP & SoH) Gerald Ford’s legacy will always be a strange one. Yet most people thought of the Fords as a family were in many ways admirable — there children are still respected I think.

  2. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Not sure how the emoticon outplaced the “P” there…

  3. macarthursmutterings says:

    nice posting

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