Former U.S. first lady Betty Ford, an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and the founder of the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse, has died.
Family members said the 93-year-old died Friday evening.
Another former first lady, Nancy Reagan, expressed her condolences shortly after the news was announced. Reagan said Ford was an “inspiration to so many” thanks to her efforts at the Betty Ford Center and to educate people about breast cancer.
Former President George H.W. Bush also expressed his condolences, calling Ford a “courageous first lady,” a “wonderful wife and mother,” and a “great friend.”
Ford was born in Chicago in 1918. She moved to New York in her twenties where she worked as a dancer and a model.
Former President Gerald Ford was her second husband. The two wed shortly before he was elected to serve in the U. S. Congress in 1948. In 1974, the couple moved to the White House, after the Watergate scandal led President Richard Nixon and his Vice President, Spiro Agnew, to resign.
As first lady, Betty Ford became known for her candor, famously discussing women’s rights, premarital sex, and abortion in a television interview. She was diagnosed with breast cancer while at the White House, and became an advocate for breast cancer research and awareness.
After leaving the White House, Ford admitted and sought treatment for an addiction to alcohol and painkillers. She co-founded the Betty Ford Center in 1982, still one of the most well-known and well-regarded treatment centers for substance abuse.