Betty Ford in 1942Betty Ford (Elizabeth Bloomer), social activist, wife of President Gerald R. Ford, and mother of four, died Friday at the age of 93. Ford was a beloved First Lady who advocated equal rights for women, supported abortion rights, and educated people on women's health and addiction issues. Ford raised awareness about breast cancer early on -- after having a radical mastectomy in 1974 and speaking so frankly about it. She overcame addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol and helped found the well-known Betty Ford Center in 1982 with Ambassador Leonard Firestone.
During her life, Betty Ford wrote her autobiography in two volumes that helped us get to know her even better: The Times of My Life (1978) and Betty: A Glad Awakening (1988).
Here. a compilation of quotes from Betty Ford's 1978 memoir dealing with motherhood, women's rights, and women's health issues:
- “I was always there at three-thirty when the older ones came home from school and in the days when we still had infants, I was a pretty average mother. If I had a quiet hour, I dived into a historical novel. ... I was a den mother. I was a Sunday-school teacher. I was an interior decorator and a peacemaker and a zoo keeper. We raised every kind of an animal in the world.”
- “...I never felt hopelessly mutilated. After all, Jerry and I had been married a good many years and our love had proved itself. I had no reason to doubt my husband. If he’d lost a leg, I wouldn’t have deserted him, and I knew he wouldn’t desert me because I was unfortunate enough to have had a mastectomy. Neither of us can walk away from the other.”
- “Lying in the hospital, thinking of all those women going for cancer checkups because of me, I’d come to recognize more clearly the power of the woman in the White House. Not my power, but the power of the position, a power which could be used to help.”
- “A housewife deserves to be honored as much as a woman who earns her living in the marketplace. I consider bringing up children a responsible job. In fact, being a good housewife seems to me a much tougher job than going to the office and getting paid for it. What man could afford to pay for all the things a wife does, when she’s a cook, a mistress, a chauffeur, a nurse, a baby-sitter? But because of this, I feel women ought to have equal rights, equal Social Security, equal opportunities for education, an equal chance to establish credit.”
- “I entered Long Beach to rid myself of dependence on drugs. Even now, I think staying off medication will be harder for me than staying off liquor because I have pain which comes often. For the present, I seem to be dealing with it. It’s mind over matter a lot.”
Betty Ford was one of America's great First Ladys and she will be remembered for her candor, her advocacy, and her strength.