U-M and Ford School pay tribute to the life and legacy of Betty Ford

October 11, 2012

The Gerald R. Ford School for Public Policy sponsored a 90-minute tribute to the late first lady, Betty Ford, who died July 8, 2011, at age 93. Betty Ford was remembered as a feminist, a pioneer in breast cancer awareness, and an advocate for addiction treatment.

The event included speeches from Nancy Brinker, a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Sanford Weill, former CEO and chairman of Citigroup; U-M President Mary Sue Coleman; and Ford School Dean Susan M. Collins.

"Throughout their 58 years of marriage and public service, they traveled to Ann Arbor many times," Mike Ford said of his parents, the late President and first lady. "Mom came to love the University of Michigan because she loved Jerry Ford, the son of the maize and blue."

U-M President Mary Coleman, who considered Gerald and Betty Ford personal friends, spoke of Betty Ford's role as a leader on women's issues. She said Mrs. Ford's frankness about breast cancer encouraged millions of women to see their doctors, perform monthly exams, and get mammograms.

"Mrs. Ford elevated the visibility and awareness of women's roles in the world and their right to be treated as equals," Coleman said.

Nancy Brinker recounted Betty Ford's participation in the first fundraising event she put together to find a cure for breast cancer in 1982.

"Mrs. Ford didn't just lend her name, she lent her leadership, and one of my favorite quotes that guides me even to this day is fairly simple, which is that 'you never know what you can do until you have to do it,'" Brinker said.

[Read more about the event in the University Record.]

[View photos from this event on Flickr.]