Betty Ford, the former first lady whose triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California, has died, a family friend said. She was 93.
Mrs Ford's death was confirmed by Marty Allen, chairman emeritus of the Ford Foundation. Details of her death and where she died were not immediately available, and Allen said he would not comment further until he received instruction from the family.
Betty Ford, whose husband, Gerald, died in December 2006, had undergone surgery for an undisclosed ailment in April 2007. During and after her years in the White House, 1974 to 1977, Mrs. Ford won acclaim for her candor, wit and courage as she fought breast cancer, severe arthritis and the twin addictions of drugs and alcohol. She also pressed for abortion rights and women's rights.
But it was her Betty Ford Center, which rescued celebrities and ordinary people from addiction, that made her famous in her own right.
"People who get well often say, 'You saved my life,' and 'You've turned my life around,'" she recalled. "They don't realize we merely provided the means for them to do it themselves and that's all."
The former president died Dec. 26, 2006, at age 93.