Dozens of friends and loved ones arrived at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Wednesday; some of the biggest philanthropic and political names in West Michigan. The motorcade rolled up in front of the museum, and before her grieving children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, Former First Lady Betty Ford was welcomed home.
During a small private service in museum, Betty was called an extraordinary woman. "Elizabeth Ford was one of those few: a first lady that doesn't have the power of the pen to sign laws or negotiate treaties,” Mayor George Heartwell said of Mrs. Ford. “Her husband provided the platform, but Lord, you gave her the voice, and the courage to use it."
Many here in West Michigan, and around the world, remember a woman who worked to help women gain equal footing in the workplace -- to eliminate the stigmas attached to alcoholism and other addictions. “One person came to me and said, ‘did you realize 90,000 people have gone through the Betty Ford Clinic?’” Governor Rick Snyder told the group at the short service. “And the point the person didn't make is how many groups like the Betty Ford Clinic have been created around the world because of her work and effort.”
But perhaps most important to her, she worked to provide a safe, loving home for her children, and gave a deep and everlasting love to her husband. "It was absolutely incredible the relationship President and Betty Ford had,” Gov. Snyder said. “They were married for 58 years. What an accomplishment. What a bond of love. It's something truly to aspire to."
In the crowd, Former Ambassador to Italy, Peter Secchia, sat, as well as members of the DeVos and Van Andel Families; the families that co-founded Amway Corp., and Mark Murray, President of Meijer Corporation.