Mrs. Ford, the widow of President Gerald R. Ford and a winter resident of Riverside County, died at the age of 93, family friend Marty Allen said Friday.
Details of her death and where she died were not immediately available, and Allen, chairman emeritus of the Ford Foundation, said he would not comment further until he received instruction from the family.
“She was a wonderful wife and mother; a great friend; and a courageous First Lady,” former President George H.W. Bush said in a statement Friday. “No one confronted life’s struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced.”
In a statement Friday, President Barack Obama said the Betty Ford Center would honor Mrs. Ford’s legacy “by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.”
Betty Ford shared her life and her struggles with the world and brought sobriety to tens of thousands of people through a center bearing her name.
The Betty Ford Center (BFC), previously the Betty Ford Clinic, is a not-for-profit, chemical dependency recovery hospital in Rancho Mirage, California, that offers inpatient, outpatient, and day treatment for alcohol and other drug addictions as well as prevention and education programs for family and children.
The Center was co-founded by former U.S. First Lady Betty Ford and Leonard Firestone in October, 1982. Mrs. Ford’s decision to undertake such a project followed on the heels of her own battle with alcohol dependence and opioid analgesic addiction,and after her release from the Long Beach Naval Hospital, she pursued the goal of creating a treatment center that emphasized the needs of women.