Elizabeth Bloomer Ford

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford

Born: April 8, 1918 at Chicago, Illinois
Died: July 8, 2011 (aged 93) at Rancho Mirage, California
Spouse: William Warren (m. 1942 – 1947; divorced), Gerald Ford (m. 1948 – 2006; his death)

Political Party: Republican
Children: Michael Gerald Ford, John Gardner Ford, Steven Ford, Susan Ford

Facts about Elizabeth Bloomer Ford

She was the 1st First Lady to chat to people via CB Radio using the ‘handle’ of “”First Mama“”. Her full name was Elizabeth Bloomer but she was called by the pet name “”Betty“” by her family, friends and husband. In 1985, Ford received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.

Her life was chronicled in the 1987 made-for-television movie The Betty Ford Story. She was played by actress Gena Rowlands.

Since the early 1960s, Betty Ford had been taking opioid analgesics for pain from a pinched nerve. Her dependency on these drugs had dissipated during her time in the White House, but after leaving Washington, D.C., her drinking of alcohol increased as did her use of prescription drugs. In 1978, the Ford family staged an intervention, and forced Betty to confront her addition to alcohol and pain pills.

In 1982, after her full recovery, Betty helped establish the Betty Ford Center, dedicated to helping all people, but especially women, with chemical dependency.

She published two books, Betty: A Glad Awakening (1987) and Healing and Hope: Six Women from the Betty Ford Center Share Their Powerful Journeys of Addiction and Recovery (2003).

Although much about her life was traditional, Betty Ford compiled a remarkably independent record as first lady, and she became enormously popular for her honesty and candor.

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford Childhood

Born Elizabeth Anne Bloomer in Chicago, Illinois, on April 8, 1918, Betty Ford was the third child and only daughter of William Bloomer Sr. and Hortense Neahr. Her father worked for the Royal Rubber Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan; her mother was related to a wealthy Grand Rapids furniture manufacturing family.

Betty’s mother thought social graces were important, so in 1926 eight-year-old Betty enrolled at Calla Travis Dance Studio in Grand Rapids, where she studied ballet, tap and modern movement. Dance became a passion, and soon Betty decided to pursue it as a career. At 14, she taught younger children dances such as the foxtrot, waltz and “”The Big Apple.”” While still in high school, she opened her own dance school teaching children and adults.

When Betty was 16, her father was asphyxiated by carbon monoxide poisoning while working on the family car in a closed garage. It was never confirmed whether his death was accidental or a suicide. With the main bread-winner gone, Betty’s mother supported the family by working as a real-estate agent. Her strength and independence in the face of tragedy greatly influenced Betty, shaping her views on equal pay and equality for women.

After graduating from high school, Betty spent two summers at the Bennington School of Dance in Vermont studying under legendary choreographer and dancer Martha Graham. To pay for her lessons, she worked during the year as a model at a Grand Rapids department store. In 1940, Betty was accepted to study and work with Martha Graham’s auxiliary troupe in New York City. She made numerous appearances as a dancer, including a performance at Carnegie Hall.

Where is Elizabeth Bloomer Ford buried?

Funeral services were held in Palm Desert, California, on July 12, 2011, with over 800 people in attendance, including former president George W. Bush, First Lady Michelle Obama and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rosalynn Carter, Cokie Roberts and Geoffrey Mason, a member of the Board of the Betty Ford Center delivered eulogies.

On July 13, her casket was flown to Grand Rapids where it lay in repose at the Gerald Ford Museum overnight.

On July 14, a second service was held at Grace Episcopal Church with eulogies given by Lynne Cheney, former Ford Museum director Richard Norton Smith and son, Steven. In attendance were former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former first lady Barbara Bush. In her remarks, Ms. Cheney noted that July 14 would have been Gerald Ford’s 98th birthday. After the service, she was buried next to her husband on the museum grounds.

How did Elizabeth Bloomer Ford die?

Betty Ford died of natural causes on July 8, 2011, at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, aged 93.