Betty Ford, First Lady of Recovery

Thank you for voicing your own pain during an era

when it wasn’t encouraged.

You created a path for so many others to heal. Bless you.

Sincerely, LE (from tribute page,

My mother was the first to tell me of the passing of former First Lady Betty Ford.

The media coverage, and my mothers’ admiration serve as reminders that Mrs. Ford became a woman who brought frank, personal recovery from addiction, alcoholism and breast cancer into our living rooms. Everyone felt they knew here and benefited from her courage, humility  and openness.

Mrs. Ford died at the same age, 93,  but different year as her beloved husband, former President Gerald Ford. She didn’t pass along the reigns of Betty Ford Center board involvement to her daughter, until she was in her late 80’s. She held authority, and wisdom, yet was a regular mom. Her son Steve, at her memorial, spoke of her initial denial of his alcoholism, and his response. ” ‘Mom, you can’t be in denial for it; you’re, like, Betty Ford! You’re a poster child for this,'” he said to laughter.

I was blessed to have met Mrs. Ford on a few occasions due to my time on staff at the Betty Ford Center.  To me, she was the woman who was a real and caring presence at the treatment center which bore her name. She spoke graciously, along with President Ford, to a scared National Conference presenter attending a fancy reception – me. She personally reached out to celebrities and plain folk ready to bolt away from treatment. She knew the journey of recovery, the terror of beginnings, the cravings, the eventual gratitude. She  lived it. Read more here:

You can also access the Betty Ford Center tribute  page at:


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One Response to “ “Betty Ford, First Lady of Recovery”

  1. Terry Newton says:

    Hi Janneke:

    It has been many, many years since we worked together at BFC. Please write to my email listed above. I have been the executive director of this program in Michigan for the past 21 years. The home state of Gerald and Betty Ford and I got a letter from her to hang on our wall when I started that program 20 years ago. Take care.

    Terry Newton

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