Public figures react to Betty Ford's death

July 8, 2011 8:26:55 PM PDT
Various public figures issued the following statements about the death of Betty Ford.

Text of President Barack Obama's statement on the death of former first lady Betty Ford:

"Throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation's First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women's health and women's rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.

"Today, we take comfort in the knowledge that Betty and her husband, former President Gerald Ford, are together once more. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to their children, Michael, John, Steven, and Susan."

George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara:

"Barbara and I loved Betty Ford very much. She was a wonderful wife and mother; a great friend; and a courageous First Lady.

No one confronted life's struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced. The Betty Ford Center, which already has helped change the lives of thousands of people, will be her lasting legacy of care and concern. We were proud to know her. We were proud to call her a friend. We will miss her very much."

George W. Bush and his wife, Laura:

Laura and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Betty Ford. We admired her as a First Lady and valued her as a friend. She made countless contributions to our country, and we especially appreciate her courage in calling attention to breast cancer and substance abuse. Because of her leadership, many lives were saved. Tonight our prayers go out to Mrs. Ford's entire family.

Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn:

"Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of Betty Ford, a close personal friend and our frequent partner in bipartisan efforts to improve mental health and substance abuse care in our nation."

The statement went on to say that Betty Ford's "courageous candor helped forge a new era of openness after the divisiveness of the Vietnam War and Watergate." They also called Ford a "tireless advocate for women's rights and social justice."

Nancy Reagan:

"I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford's death. She has been an inspiration to so many through her efforts to educate women about breast cancer and her wonderful work at the Betty Ford Center. She was Jerry Ford's strength through some very difficult days in our country's history, and I admired her courage in facing and sharing her personal struggles with all of us."

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