Hundreds Come From Near And Far To Pay Respects To Betty Ford At Public Viewing

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As Betty Ford's motorcade arrived in downtown Grand Rapids, Joe Watson was waiting in line at DeVos Place to pay his respects at her public viewing.

Watson, a Grand Rapids resident, arrived at 11:30 a.m. Wednesaday and was the first in line.

"I'm honored to be down here," Watson told Fox 17 News. "I was here five years ago for Ford, so I thought I'd pay my respects to her too."

Watson, and hundreds of others waiting for hours for the first public repose to begin shortly after 7 o'clock Wednesday. Well wishers signed condolences in Devos Hall as they waited, before crossing the Gillette Bridge to enter the museum.

"She was an awesome lady. She stood up and said she was an alcoholic before everyone else would even talk about it," said Grand Rapids resident Cheryl Paulson. "She was a First Lady at the time, and to me that took some courage."

"It's history in the making," added Mary Wright, of Big Rapids."That's what we wanted to be here for. When someone gives their life and serves the country the way she did, she deserves to have people come and say thank you."

Betty Ford's casket arrived at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum shortly around 6 o'clock Wednesday. The public respose was expected to last from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

A second public repose will be held Thursday morning from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Betty Ford's funeral service begins at 2 p.m at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids.

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