The Life Of Former First Lady Betty Ford Honored At Grace Episcopal Church

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The life of former First Lady Betty Ford was honored at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids Thursday afternoon.

As early as 1 p.m. pews were already filling with guests.

Among the guests, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife Lynne Cheney, presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, and Governor Rick Snyder.

Reverend Stephen Holmgren led the service accompanied by musicians from the United States Army Chorus, and the Grace Episcopal Church Choir.

The mood was somber yet celebratory of a life that reflected a glamorous, stylish, and modest woman.

A woman who knew how to love, as Betty Ford's son, Steve Ford, noted.

During his own personal struggle with alcoholism it was that love that pulled him through.

"She was just like every other mother in the country, she said oh no my son's not an alcoholic you can't be an alcoholic.  I said, mom stop, you can't be in denial you're like Betty Ford you're like the poster child for this thing.  But she was, she was just like every other mother and once things settled down she gave me one of the greatest gifts and that was how to surrender to God," Steve Ford said.

She was a woman who bucked the trend and was both loved and hated for it.

But she stuck to her beliefs and won a nation's heart by her relatable and genuine character.

She spoke out on issues like breast cancer awareness, drug and alcohol abuse, pre marital sex, and abortion.  Although at times her opinions differed from those of her husband, her outspoken nature gave the former First Lady her own unique place in history.

"Betty Ford broke the silence not for the last time she became the face, not of a disease, but of recovery," Richard Norton Smith said.

Yet it was the love for her husband and her children that so many also found remarkable.

And Thursday afternoon, it brought comfort to many that Gerald and Betty Ford are once again reunited.

"She loved her children, Susan told me earlier today that she had gone in early July to visit her mom on her, Susan's, birthday.  And that her mom from her bed had sung her Happy Birthday.  And I know with what love she did it.   And I’d like to think that today, on Gerald Ford's birthday, she is singing to him in heaven," Lynne Cheney said.

Thursday afternoon’s service lasted about an hour and a half.

Betty Ford will be buried next to her husband Gerald Ford, just north of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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