Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93

DETROIT, Mich. - (AP) - Betty Ford, the former first lady whose triumphover drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addictsand the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center, has died, a familyfriend said Friday. She was 93.

Mrs. Ford's death was confirmed by Marty Allen, chairmanemeritus of the Ford Foundation. He did not comment further, andsaid he expected the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museumwould release information later.

Betty Ford, whose husband, Gerald, died in December 2006, hadundergone surgery for an undisclosed ailment in April 2007. Duringand after her years in the White House, 1974 to 1977, Mrs. Ford wonacclaim for her candor, wit and courage as she fought breastcancer, severe arthritis and the twin addictions of drugs andalcohol. She also pressed for abortion rights and the Equal RightsAmendment.

But it was her Betty Ford Center, a desert oasis that rescuedcelebrities and ordinary people from addiction, that made herfamous in her own right. She was modest about that accomplishment.

"People who get well often say, `You saved my life,' and`You've turned my life around,"' she recalled. "They don'trealize we merely provided the means for them to do it themselvesand that's all.

"That's a God-given gift as far as I'm concerned. I don't takeany credit for providing anything that wasn't provided to me."

After the former president died Dec. 26, 2006, at age 93, hiswidow said: "His life was filled with love of God, his family andhis country." They had been married in 1948, the same year he waselected to Congress.

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