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Rosalynn Carter, others pay tribute to Betty Ford

July 12, 2011 |  3:24 pm

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter delivers a eulogy during the funeral for former First Lady Betty Ford at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert Tuesday

Describing her close friend as a compassionate and tireless advocate for those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter said Tuesday that Betty Ford was “someone who was willing to do things a bit differently than had been done before.”

Carter, speaking at a memorial service for Ford in Palm Desert, said the two had worked together for years as advocates for those suffering from addiction diseases and mental illness. She recalled her first meeting with Ford when her husband was vice president.

Photos: Life of Betty Ford

The meeting took place in Georgia when Carter's husband was governor.

“Of course, I didn’t tell her my husband was thinking about running for president,” Carter said, drawing laughter from the audience. “She was just Betty, as gracious as always.”

Carter said that she and Ford developed a close friendship over the years and that Ford showed her that there is life after the White House through her work with those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. She spoke admiringly of how Ford stood up to fear, stigma and prejudice.

“She was never afraid to speak the truth, including about her own struggle with alcohol and pain killers,” she said. “Her honesty gave help to others every day.”

Carter also talked about Ford’s passion for her husband and family.

“It was a privilege to know her,” Carter said.

Before Carter spoke, Michael Ford read from a Bible passage from 1 Corinthians. He then spoke of his mother’s love for her family.

“Mom’s love, we know of her love, her love of God and his personal touch in her life, bringing good out of evil, healing out of brokenness and dancing, yes dancing, she was quite a dancer,” he said.

Ford noted how his mother referred to his father as “my boyfriend for 58 years of marriage.”

“What a beautiful journey they shared together as husband and wife,” he said, “faithfully standing by each other, only to grow stronger in devotion to one another and closer in united love.”

Other dignitaries in attendance at the memorial service for Betty Ford in Palm Desert included former President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Former California First Lady Maria Shriver also attended.


Betty Ford dies at 93

Security tight at Betty Ford memorial service

Michelle Obama, George W. Bush at Betty Ford memorial

-- Phil Willon in Palm Desert

Photo: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter speaks at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert on Tuesday. Credit: Jae C. Hong / European Pressphoto Agency