The University of Michigan tribute to Mrs. Betty Ford. Keynote by Nancy G. Brinker, performance by Miki Orihara, tribute remarks from President Mary Sue Coleman, Michael Ford, and Sandy Weill. October, 2012.
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>> [Background Music] When Betty Ford suddenly and unexpectedly became First Lady in 1974 amidst the scandal of Watergate, she was like a breath of fresh air. She had the poise of Pat Nixon, a strong sense of style like Jackie Kennedy, and looked to Eleanor Roosevelt as a role model. But it was her personal candor that made Betty Ford unique among her predecessors and would ultimately help to save thousands of lives. She was born Elizabeth Ann Bloomer in 1918 and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Betty Bloomer was a lively teenager who spoke her mind and gravitated toward the freer forms of modern dance. When she graduated from high school, she knew exactly what she wanted to do, move to New York City to become a professional dancer. She spent three years living her dreams, studying and dancing with the legendary Martha Graham and even performing at Carnegie Hall. She returned to Grand Rapids but continued dancing. And after her first marriage that ended in divorce, Betty met her match in a handsome young lawyer named Gerald R. Ford, a former University of Michigan football star and World War II naval officer, Ford had a secret ambition to run for Congress. Betty was reluctant to become a congressional wife which seemed well-founded when Gerald showed up late to their wedding wearing muddy shoes he had worn on the campaign trail. The couple then spent their honeymoon at campaign rallies and a University of Michigan football game. Nonetheless, Betty threw herself into the roles of political wife and devoted mother of four children, roles that kept her mostly out of the limelight. Her life abruptly changed, however, when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned due to corruption charges and President Nixon appointed the popular Republican minority leader, Gerald Ford, Vice President. The family barely had time to adjust to their new roles before Nixon himself resigned eight months later. The Fords, still living in their modest suburban Alexandria, Virginia home had suddenly become First Family. Betty Ford would soon find her own voice in a country that was eager to hear what she had to say. The Fords were determined to set themselves apart from the secrecy of the previous administration. So when Betty Ford had a mastectomy, just six weeks into the new Presidency, she chose to speak up publicly about her battle with breast cancer, a taboo topic at the time. This led thousands of women to seek screenings, which saved countless lives.
>> Part of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease.
>> The First Lady's openness about other topics, however, including premarital sex, marijuana use, and abortion rights, as well as her [inaudible] support of the Equal Rights Amendment was not always so-well received especially from her own party.
>> I do not believe that being First Lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas.
>> [Background Music] But she was speaking out about the issues of the time with the frankness that no previous First Lady had displayed.
>> [Background Music & Laughter] I just want to congratulate you Mr. President. I'm glad to see you who have to come a long, long way.
>> [Background Music] She had brought a more relaxed accessible atmosphere to the White House, even a sense of fun and the public found it refreshing. Betty's approval rating shot up to 75 percent. Because of her popularity, she was given a grueling campaign schedule during Gerald Ford's unsuccessful 1976 Presidential bid and it took its toll exacerbating the excruciating pain of a pinched nerve that she had been enduring for years. This brought to the forefront her addiction to pain killers and alcohol. In 1978, with the encouragement of her family, Betty began to seek treatment for her addictions and then made the brave decision to again go public with her struggle. By putting a dignified face on addiction, Betty Ford helped to de-stigmatize another deadly disease and inspire thousands to seek treatment. Later, she would help to found the Betty Ford Center which has now treated nearly 100,000 patients and their families. In the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, there is a classroom dedicated to the memory of Betty Ford. "In the Betty", as it is affectionately called by students, Betty Ford's legacy is honored through the exploration of important public policy questions, including health and women's issues. When she received an honorary law degree from the university in 1976, the Board of Regions noted, "Your style and substance have earned the admiration of a nation." These words would ring through throughout her life. And with her death in 2011, at the age of 93, the country lost one of its most courageous and original First Ladies.
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>> Good afternoon everybody and welcome. I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy here at the University of Michigan. And it is my great honor to welcome all of you here as the University of Michigan celebrates the life and the legacy of Mrs. Betty Ford. We're so pleased today that President Mary Sue Coleman, Congressman John Dingell and Mrs. Debbie Dingell, and several of the Universities executive officers and deans could be here with us today. Welcome and thank you all so much for coming. And we could not be more honored that so many members of the Ford family are here. The Fords here today spent three generations. Sons, Mike and Steve; daughter, Susan; daughter-in-law, Gayle, are all here and they're joined by several grandchildren of President Ford and even one great grandchild. I know we're all very eager to welcome them here back to Ann Arbor and so I'd like to invite the members of the Ford family, please, to stand. Welcome.
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It's really wonderful to have so many of you here with us today. And now, it is my great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Ambassador Brinker was a very good friend of Mrs. Ford's and I know that she will tell you much more about the inspiration and the support that she found in Mrs. Ford. Ambassador Brinker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. She served as US Ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003 and as a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She served as US Chief of Protocol from 2007 to 2009 and it's really a tremendous honor for us to have her here with us today. Please help me welcome to the stage, Ambassador Nancy Brinker.
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>> Thank you Dean Collins and President Coleman for inviting me. I really am honored to be here today. Because the University of Michigan has always had a special place in my heart and it's always wonderful to be with my very dear friend, a long time colleague, Susan Ford Bales, all of the of the Ford family who are here today, and Debbie and John Dingell who are also very good friends. So, Michigan has always been this university very important to me. I grew up on the other side of Lake Michigan and Peoria. And as a student, Michigan was number one on my very short list of universities. So in 1963, I send in my application, cross my fingers and eagerly awaited a response. Oh, I got one, almost the next day but it wasn't what I was hoping. So when I told my mother I was coming here today, she said, "Oh, good dear. You finally got in there [laughter] after all there years." Well, no one keeps you grounded like your mothers, you know. But the bottom line is I've got a lot of maize and blue in my heart even if not on my diploma. I'm honored to be with all of you truly. Last summer, I traveled to California with Secretary Hillary Clinton for Mrs. Ford's funeral. We talked about Betty's leadership and the extraordinary influence she had on all women and our culture. Our generation looked up to her because she had the courage to stand up and challenge our society to think about important issues, to change things that were wrong. She was an outspoken leader but she led with such grace and savvy and dignity and she moved our nation forward faster than if she had had chosen a more confrontational style, and these were monumental issues.
^M00:10:03 Her support for gender equality and for a woman's right to choose. They were amazing positions that almost defied our culture at the time. One key to her success was the relationship with her husband and his--and her support for his leadership and his for hers. As Mrs. Ford was an example to us, so too is President Ford to a generation of American men. He showed them that their wives needed to be heard and that we should invite their thinking into the public debate. He demonstrated that women not only deserve to play a central role in the evolution of our nation but that we would be more united as a result. That's a lesson anyone involved in public policy should always take to heart. For me personally, Betty Ford was a true friend and a mentor, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure wouldn't be the organization it is today without her. When we started out in the early 1980s, nobody, and I mean nobody gave us much of a chance. Remember in those days, you couldn't even say the word breast on television. Those--The disease was discussed in whispers and it's very difficult for students today to comprehend--to comprehend that with a 24/7 new cycle, social media and the ability to share opinions instantly across the world with the mobile device. So this was the culture we face when we begin our movement to end breast cancer which was very unpopular at the time. That's hard to believe but it's true. And frankly, I was searching and even a little scared because while I was determined to keep my promise to my sister, Sussie, who died at the age of 36, and I had promised that I would help make her dream a reality to end breast cancer forever. I frankly didn't know how I was going to do it. Most people in Dallas circles where I lived at the time assumed we were just the latest social club, more interested in tea parties and parties than trying to change the world. They thought we'd have a fundraiser, too, and eventually just give up and quit and go back to being housewives. Some men in our community wouldn't even let their wives put their names on our fundraising invitations. So it was clear we needed some kind of voice, some kind of gravitas, some kind of legitimacy, and only Betty Ford would provide that, since she was the first public figure to discuss her diagnosis out in the open and began the enormous culture change needed to take place in this country. I thought if we could get her involved, our credibility level would go through the roof. But in 1982, we invited her to our very first fundraiser. We didn't know what else to do, so we did a women's polo tournament 'cause we thought it would be great to have people see women do something they haven't seen before. Well, you can imagine the surprise I had when I had placed a call through a friend to ask Mrs. Ford if she come to that event, so I was very surprised when she called back. She said she only had one question, would she have to ride a horse, [laughter] but she gave us far more than just her name. She gave us her leadership and courage to face the future. She said to me one day, "You'll never know what you can do until you have to do it." That was certainly a founding principle for our organization then as it is now. For every barrier that was thrown in our way, we just didn't take no for an answer. There was no internet so we created events like Race for the Cure to help build awareness and reach millions of women. We couldn't afford Super Bowl ads, so we relied heavily on cause-related marketing since it was the only way we could speak to our target audiences. We took strong and sometimes controversial positions on issues of public policy and advocate it for women's health, and it was all fueled by the passion of breast cancer survivors who had had no voice, their families and their friends. And Betty was there every step in the way every time we called for an opinion or some advice. She taught us what I like to call the power of one. And because of the power of one, we turned a small start into a huge global movement. We started as a few volunteers and now, it is the largest network of cancer activist in the world. What started as a Race for the Cure with 800 people on a drizzly morning in Dallas, Texas is now in 150 cities around the world with more than 2 million runners. What started as 200 dollars in a shoe box and some names on cards led to a campaign which has raised and spent over 2 billion dollars on research, treatment care and screening, making us the largest private funder of breast cancer research outside of the federal government. And most importantly, most importantly, we've helped along with others increase the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer when caught very early from 74 percent to 99 percent in America. 30 years in this fight brings us to in historic juncture. While our past has been one of great progress, we faced an unforgiving future unless we renew our commitment to winning the ultimate victory. An important part of the commitment is science. And the greatest renaissance in cancer research is happening right now. In fact, I'm sure many of you saw the recent feature stories in the New York Times last week about the four genetically different cancers we've identified and much of the research behind these findings are scientist that we have funded over three decades. Some of the most promising science we fund is right here at the University of Michigan. We have funded 31 research grants totalling almost 11 million dollars for U of M scientist. Today, at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, three exceptionally talented scientists, Max Wicha, Patricia LoRusso and Jeffrey Trent, are leading a team exploring triple negative breast cancer stem cells in different racial populations. The research is now in clinical trials aimed at developing effective and safe treatment options and it's all being backed by a 3-1/2 million dollar promise grant from Susan Komen. Because of our global reach, the collaborative effort between Susan Komen and the U of M has strengthened the oncology infrastructure for Ghana's Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, so that most breast cancers in the region are now diagnosed by needle biopsy instead of surgery. And this is only one of the kinds of programs, this is the only one of a kind program on the African continent which has the potential to evolutionize the treatment of triple negative breast cancer and treat other forms of the disease as well. Susan G. Komen for the Cure supports several scientists and their research in Ann Arbor with the host of scholar grants, postdoctoral fellowships, research awards and other special projects. Lori Pierce, Dan Hayes, Lisa Newman, and Madhuri Kakarala are just a few of the researchers doing work based on funding we've provided. This is exciting and as part of the scientific renaissance and it's all happening because of our strong partnership with this university. But I'd like to tell you it's all good news, it's not. We need to recreate the passion to end the disease that existed, the kind of passion that existed that ended 30 years ago. I was in my early 20s when President Nixon, 1971, led a bipartisan effort with academics business people and the private sector leaders to begin the war on cancer. Cancer research was one of the most admired fields in the country. People rallied around the project like at no other time in our history. But the last time a leader in science was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year was almost 20 years ago. We're in danger now of losing an entire generation of scientist which is as dark public policy challenge. We need to support them and it's so encouraging to see this Michigan scientists working to find cures for killer diseases instead of the next killer opt. We need to put cancer research back in the hotline where it belongs so we can find the treatments faster. So science is critical and we invest heavily in it. We also know that science along won't help anyone unless it's translated to cures and treatments. So that's where Susan G. Komen also plays a very crucial role as a leader in civil society. Government can do a lot, but it can't do it all. Our affiliates, 120 of them around the United States and a few of them and here in Michigan focus on getting research from the desk-side to the curbside and the bedside which is what we call continuum of care. It sounds simple but we've learned through our years of service that low income women who were diagnosed need more than just treatment for breast cancer, they need other unrelated support services as well. They need to be embraced at the beginning of their care and they need other things like transportation, patient navigation, and child care, so they can stick to their regimen of recovery. When we do this, we see survival rates soar. That's where the science hits the street and it is critical for us because how much money you have or where you live shouldn't determine whether you live.
^M00:20:07 That is just as true in Michigan as it is in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it requires public-private partnerships to find solutions to very difficult challenges more today than ever. Simply put these partnerships allow everyone to focus on what they do best. Things move forward, people are helped and more lives are saved. The greatest example I can share with you is one of our newest projects called "Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon". Its goal is to reduce cervical cancer mortality by 25 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa while increasing access to breast care. Over a hundred thousand women in that continent died that way--died this way every year. We launched this project just a year ago in Washington with a unique partnership between Susan G. Komen, the Department of State, the George W. Bush Institute, UNAIDS' initiative, and PEPFAR. I remember visiting one of the clinics of one of the PEPFAR clinics, and for those of you who've never been, they're quite astonishing. This was in Tanzania five years ago and I saw the great work being done. I was struck by how simple it would be to extent that work even further, to perform cancer screening on a platform built, to treat communicable diseases and that's exactly what has happened. Once again, skeptics told us it just wouldn't work. The money or infrastructure couldn't happen. But now, there is an infrastructure. And before that was built, we heard all the same skepticism about AIDS treatment. It had all came to pass and today, this very generous, this very structures are helping to screen and treat breast and cervical cancer in places we thought it would be impossible. Rarely do you find such a natural pairing of vision--of missions. In fighting one disease, we've been able yo fight more than three diseases and that's the promise of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. It highlights the role that civil society and private organizations can play in public policy. Two plus two equals five. So in Africa, in the US, and at the University of Michigan, we're making tremendous progress in the fight against breast cancer which is a strong--and our partnership has such a strong past. But the juncture I spoke of earlier is that while this is tremendous progress, we face an unforgiving future unless we renew our commitment to winning this fight. I want to tell you also that nothing else humanizes this more than the courageous life story of Bridget Spence who will anchor a new Susan G. Komen ad campaign this fall. Seven years ago at the age of 21, Bridget was diagnosed with Stage IV beast cancer but she's alive today because Susan G. Komen for the Cure helped her find doctors, identify treatments, and get support. She's lived more than twice as long as my sister did after being diagnosed, which is the sign of progress. She was supposed to tell that story last week at a great benefit we had at the Kennedy Center. She wanted to be there in person but she had to cancel her appearance. At the last minute, she was admitted to the hospital. Thanks--Thank heaven she was released and temporarily has begun a new clinical trial that will hopefully even extend her life a little more. I'm happy to say she's back at home and with her great ebullience and wonderful attitude. She'll fight for her life and live as long as anyone could with her disease. But that's where we are, ladies and gentlemen. That optimism, courage, and hope on the one hand with a gruesome reality of this disease on the other hand and so we cannot--we simply cannot give up. This is why I'm so pleased at the University of Michigan, the greater UM community is playing such a leading role in this fight because we need you more than ever. And it is precisely because of the work being done here and around the country, but I am confident we will win our ultimate victory against breast cancer. I encourage you as Betty Ford encouraged me to keep up the fight because you never know how much you can do until you have to do it. Thank you for inviting me.
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>> Ambassador Brinker, thank you so much for those very inspiring remarks. Betty Ford was an accomplished dancer who made her first public performance at age 8. Throughout her school year, she was a voracious student of many styles of dance and just after finishing high school, she attended a summer dance program at Bennington College in Vermont where she choreographed--where choreographer and modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham, was in residence. And Martha Graham became Betty's inspiration. She joined Martha's troop in New York for two years before returning to Grand Rapids where she continued to teach dance. And years later, Mrs. Ford's love for dance as we've seen injected style and laughter and energy into the Ford White House. The First Couple brought dancing back to state dinners and hosted legendary parties that lasted well into the night. And of course we can all recall and have just enjoyed that iconic shot of her on top of the mahogany conference table in the Cabinet Room striking a beautiful pose so full of grace and humor. And anyone who sees that picture knows that this was a very unique First Lady. In her 1978 autobiography, "The Times of My Life", Mrs. Ford reflected, "Dance is my happiness." And here to celebrate that source of Mrs. Ford's happiness, it is my pleasure to introduce Miki Orihara, Principal Dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company. Please join me in welcoming her to the stage.
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Thank you, Miki, that was beautiful. That was the opening dance of Martha Graham's 1940 ballet, "Letter to the World." Graham took her inspiration for that work from Emily Dickinson and the dance evokes Dickinson's curiosity and eagerness to engage with life. Miki, thank you once again for that lovely performance.
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Next, we'll hear tribute remarks from a few people who admired and loved Mrs. Ford, and as Dean of the Ford School, I have the tremendous honor of getting started. At the Ford School, we prepare leaders. We prepare our students to influence and improve public policies and we take great pride in our curriculum, our professional development and our faculty research. Mrs. Betty Ford who had no formal training in public policy yet profoundly influenced some of the most important public issues of our time, how did she do it? She was of course married to a career politician and spent over 27 years as the wife of a congressman, vice president, and then president. But most importantly, Mrs. Ford had conviction. Outspoken and independent by nature, upbringing and life circumstance, she had the courage to speak her mind. It's no surprise that here at the University of Michigan and at the Ford School, we consider Mrs. Ford an exemplar for our students. In 1975, she told a crowd, "I do not believe that being first lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas." And so Mrs. Ford did speak her mind. She proudly called herself a feminist and she actively lobbied for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. After the Watergate scandal and coverup, her husband took office promising transparency to the American people and in that charged context, Mrs. Ford bravely decided to make public her treatment for breast cancer. Later in life, her candor about alcoholism and addiction put a known much loved face on those diseases. Her outspokenness was not without cost. Well, she certainly isn't the last first lady to take criticism for outspoken views on public policy issues, she was among the first. In 1975, Mrs. Ford spoke with 60 Minutes about premarital sex and about her strong support for Roe versus Wade decision to legalize abortion. And the White House received a flood of over 28,000 letters, nearly all of them critical of the first lady. Some of those letters are on display at the Ford Presidential Library on North Campus. I've had the pleasure of spending time at the Ford Library and it really--it's one of the gems of Ann Arbor and I encourage all of you to visit, especially if you've not had the opportunity so far. At the library, you can read one--a few of those outraged letters including some from very prominent people. But after the initial wave of criticism, Americans from both sides of the political isle came to admire Mrs. Ford and her candor and her popularity sword. In the short run, her husband narrowly lost his campaign for a second term in office. But in the long run, their legacies all right secure and profound. His, as a man of integrity who helped America to heal, and hers, as a courageous woman who broke taboos and saved countless lives. Throughout her life, Betty Ford spoke her story, an honest American story about child rearing, work, illness, recovery and family. That story resonated with so many of her fellow citizens in a way that political leaders rarely do. And in fact, as an immigrant myself whose family is from Jamaica, I can attest that it resonated in countries around the globe. I was fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Ford once when she invited me to her California home after I became dean of the Ford School. And I was strucked by her grace and her graciousness. She took a deep interest in the activities of our students in particular. And each year, we would send her a birthday card or a birthday video. And each year, dozens of students in the midst of classes and assignments and problems sets in their jobs would turn out to be included in those videos. Her spirit is very much alive at the Ford School. And so, to our students in particular, I encouraged you to look to Mrs. Ford as inspiration and example. Speak out, find your conviction. Tell your story, your work, your impact and your service might be just the living legacy that President Ford, and the irrepressible Mrs. Betty Ford would most have treasured. Thank you.
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And now, it is my great pleasure to introduce the 13th President of the University of Michigan, Mary Sue Coleman.
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>> Well, thank you Susan and thank you for your leadership of the Ford School. It's a great honor to take part in this joyful celebration of Betty Ford's life and legacy. Throughout her life as a professional dancer, wife and mother, first lady champion of the arts, an advocate for women's health and equality. Betty Ford displayed a confect in an infectious spirit of candor and courage. She once described herself as an ordinary woman who was cold on stage at an extraordinary time. The grim circumstances that led to Congressman Ford becoming vice president in 1973 and then president in 1974 after Richard Nixon resigned shocked the country. It was arguably our nation's most significant constitutional threat since the Civil War. Fortunately for us, Betty Ford proved to be an extraordinary woman and a strong player on the Ford team working together to restore trust in government following Watergate. President and Mrs. Ford helped the nation heal. In his inaugural address, President Ford said, "I am indebted to no man and to one woman, my dear wife Betty, as I begin this difficult job." Mrs. Ford exercised her influence and successfully lobbied her husband to appoint more women to key roles in government. President Ford once said, he had little choice, appointing women was the best way to keep me out of the dog house with Betty. Speaking at the 1976 Republican Convention, Cary Grant told delegates, "It would be good for women to be there--it would be good for women if there were four more years of pillow talk in a Ford White House. Mrs. Ford once said, "I don't like to be dishonest. So when people asked me, I said what I thought and speak," she did. She was truthful with the American people about such sensitive topics, at sexuality, women's rights and addiction. Her frankness about breast cancer encouraged millions of women to see their doctors. Perform monthly exams and get mammograms. Through interviews, press conferences and public appearances, Mrs. Ford elevated the visibility and awareness of women's roles in the world and their right to be treated as equal. A career woman, before marrying a handsome Michigan graduate name Jerry Ford, Betty was a quick study when it came to politics.
^M00:40:01 She researched the job of congressman in the Library of Congress and told a biographer, "I saw that I would have to grow with Jerry or be left behind. And I had no intention of being left behind." She was in the Vanguard and issues affecting women, their health, and their families. She agreed with the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision explaining "I'm glad abortion has been taken out of the back rooms and put into the hospitals where it belongs." She campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment. Before 1974, only two other first ladies, Eleonor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson, had publicly lobbied for legislation. In 1993, she joined Rosalynn Carter in urging the White House and Congress to include mental health and substance abuse coverage and proposed health care reform legislation. Again, Mrs. Ford was ahead of her time. She also exercised the traditional responsibility as a first lady with grace, including entertaining dignitaries and redecorating the Oval Office. She planned and hosted memorable state dinners and was involved in more than 600 bicentennial celebration events. Betty Ford was a strong, energetic campaigner and represented the President on many occasions. Citizen band radios were popular in the 1970's and her handle was First Mama. She would call trackers and urge them to vote for her husband. "Vote for Betty's Husband" became one of the campaigns' most popular slogans. In November 1976, by the end of the campaign, when Jerry Ford has lost his voice in the election, it was his team mate Betty who stood by his side. She was the one who read the traditional telegram of concession and congratulations to President-elect Carter. After the Ford's move to California, she continued her focus on public health issues, establishing the Betty Ford Center. Her lifetime of work received the highest of tributes. President George H.W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Along with President Ford, she received the Congressional Goal Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow on an American citizen. Betty Ford was a role model. And not just for women. She raised our consciousness and helped expand public perceptions of the roles of women to include family and professional careers. She showed all of us the value and importance of integrity, honesty, and dignity. I first admired Betty Ford from afar. After coming to the university, I had the great honor of knowing her and President Ford and calling them friends. As so many people here know, President and Mrs. Ford were absolutely delightful. And together with their children, they were steadfast supporters of Michigan. We will miss Betty Ford's dedication and enthusiasm. We are blessed with the wide ranging impact of her words and her actions and we'll always remember the gifts that she gave to our community and our nation. Family always was important to Mrs. Ford, as a girl growing up in Grand Rapids and later as a wife and a mother. We are honored to have her family, her dearest and most important legacy with us today. And it is now my great pleasure to introduce Michael Ford, the oldest son of President and Mrs. Ford and a member of the Ford School Committee. Mike is extremely familiar with the college environment having worked at Wake Forest University for more than 30 years. There, he is the Director of Student Development and works closely with students to support their academic and personal growth. Mike and his wife Gayle are the parents of three daughters and the grandparents to five. Please join me in a warm Michigan welcome for Mike Ford. Mike?
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>> Thank you, President Coleman. And this is a very special day for Susan and Steve. Jack can't be with us today but my wife and our extended family, my wife Gale. And we are here to celebrate with you this special lady, Betty Ford. A year ago, this past July, our family and all the nation said goodbye to our dear mom, Betty Ford. And while in the moment, it was a sad parting for all of us. Her death was a joyiest farewell as mom went home to be with her father in heaven. In the midst of our grief, the family knew that mom had it figured out. In her final days with us, she expressed that she had done everything here on earth that she could possibly do that God had asked her to do for family, for friends, for the circle of people both near and far that had looked to her for a direction and inspiration and leadership. And besides, dad's birthday was just around the corner, July 14th and she wanted to go home and celebrate his birthday with her best friend. And so, we told her we loved her and that everything was going to be fine and okay, and that we would say goodbye for now. And at that time, we remembered mom in California and we took her home to Grand Rapids to join dad in rest. And over the past year, we've had the opportunity to pay tribute to mom in Vail, Colorado and Washington DC to very special places in her life. And now, we find ourselves here in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan to remember mom to celebrate her life and legacy. It's only fitting that we're here in Ann Arbor for mom has a wonderful history here at the University of Michigan. When dad was courting mom in the fall of 1946, he brought her back to Ann Arbor many times to cheer on the Wolverines on the Gridiron. Jerry Ford loved the University of Michigan and he was falling in love with Betty Bloomer Warren. The Wolverines were having great football season in the fall of 1947, unbeaten in the Big Ten. They were so good that they were invited out to the Rose Bowl in California to play USC. And yes, my dad followed his team to California that year for the big game. This summer when my brothers and sister were going through my dad's and mom's keepsakes, we came across a copy of an old Western Union telegram. It was sent to Ms. Betty Warren. It was dated January 1st, 1948 from Santa Monica, California just down the road from the Rose Bowl and it read "Miss you, dot, dot, dot, wished you were here, dot, dot, dot, loads of love, Jerry." On that special New Year's Day, dad had his two special loves on his heart, the Michigan Wolverines and Betty Bloomer Warren. As a historical footnote, I'm pleased to report that the University of Michigan beat USC 49 to nothing.
Many of you know their love story. Dad and mom were engaged to be married on February of '48. They were married later that fall on October 15th in the midst of his campaign to run for the fifth district of congress which she won. And their postponed honeymoon was spent, you guess it, in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan of football game followed by a trip down the road to Detroit to participate in the campaign--Presidential campaign rally of New York Governor Thomas Dewey.
^M00:50:06 So begin the life in service of Gerald and Betty Ford, throughout their 58 years of marriage in public service, they made many trips back to Ann Arbor and they have created many special memories here. Mom came to love the University of Michigan because she loved Jerry Ford, the son of the maize and blue. Many wonderful things were written and spoken about my mother when she left us for a better place. Good words about her candor and her character, her advocacy for women's health issues and for people fighting dependency and addiction, her love of the arts, and her commitment to families in recovery. And then among all that has been written and spoken, I think Richard Norton Smith captured the person and the spirit of mom best when he remembered her at her funeral in Grand Rapids. Betty Ford was at once a traditionalist and a trailblazer, a Sunday school teacher, and a Seventh Avenue model; she was the feminist next door, a free spirit with a dress code. Jack and Steve, Susan, and I knew how these descriptive words of contrast about mom run so very true. In April of 2008, we all gathered together as a family in Palm Springs, California to help celebrate mom's 90th birthday. Dad had gone home two years earlier and so the family circle was a bit incomplete, but it was a grand occasion nonetheless because there, in the center of the room sat mom Ford, seated, surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, and each of us had the opportunity in our own words to express our love and our appreciation for mom Ford. And there were several common themes that seemed to kind of come out through our words and stories. We thanked her for the many life lessons that she had taught us, each of us, especially through the experiences of personal struggle and brokenness. We told her how much we admired and respected her for how she faced the personal crisis and those crucibles of life being confronted by cancer, battling alcohol and drug dependency, and then how in each crisis she demonstrated honesty, openness, courage, and faith. We also told mom that we had been instructed and inspired by how once she faced her life-threatening crisis, she turned her focus off herself and reached out to those who were also struggling with the demons of cancer and alcoholism, taking her own pain and hard-won battles and with God's help, turning them for the good for the welfare of so many others who were traveling a similar road. And there at her 90th birthday, we told mom that while we admired her for what she did in the big moments of life, we also loved her for the many, many things that she did for us as individuals and as a family in the little moments of her life in our lives. My brother Steve described mom's critical role in our family so well at her funeral in Grand Rapids. Steve used the metaphor of our family as a fleet of naval vessels, ships. Yes, dad was the aircraft carrier which we can now call the CVN-78, soon to be commissioned. But the Ford family fleet, for in that fleet, mom was the hospital ship, for there in the little moments of life, mom was always there to take care of us. She was the first one to put her arms around us. As a child or also as an adult, she was our biggest cheerleader. If we had a victory, she was the first one to celebrate it with us. If we had a defeat, she was the first to come along side and comfort us. And this was true for Jack, for Steve, for Susan, myself, for our children and our grandchildren. Mom's unconditional love and affirmation for each of us, throughout our years, through the good times and the not so good times, gave us incredible life and redemptive spirit. We also thanked mom and dad for the model of love and devotion that they had for one another throughout their 58 years of marriage. Because of her love for dad, mom made many personal sacrifices taking on the primary role of parenting for very active and precautious children, while dad gave countless hours and days serving his constituents, serving the nation in his various roles of leadership and as a public servant. And then in reverse when mom was facing her battles with cancer and alcohol and drug dependancy, dad's love and devotion to her was paramount as he stepped forward to care for her through her recovery and her healing process, and then later in life, to be her number one supporter with her vision for the Betty Ford Center. Finally, we thank mom for showing us how to know and to love God well. It was through her personal struggles with their physical and mental health that mom discovered her first love, God almighty and her relationship with Jesus Christ. Throughout her recovery, mom practiced the presence of God living one day at a time, guided by the Serenity Prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference." Such an abiding faith and trust in the loving grace giving God with mom and dad's greatest gift to our family. When Jack and I were young boys, probably 10 and 8 years old, dad would take us to his congressional office on Capitol Hill on Saturdays to get us out of the house and to give mom a break. And we would love to go with him because we always enjoyed running up and down those massive government hallways and then getting an ice cream treat at the end of the day. But before we were released to play hide and seek in Statuary Hall, dad would sit down, set us both down in front of [inaudible] and he would have us write a letter to mom. Tell mom that she is a wonderful mother and a wife and tell her that you love her. Those were dad's words to each, to us each Saturday. And so with dad's encouragement, I speak for our family and when I say "Mom, you were a wonderful wife, a wonderful mother, a wonderful grandmother, great grandmother, a wonderful first lady, a wonderful advocate for women's rights, a wonderful advocate for women's issues, a wonderful lover of the arts, a wonderful friend and servant and child of God and we love you." It's now my great pleasure to introduce Sandy Weill, the Chairman Emeritus of City Group. In addition to the incredible distinguished career in financial sector, Sandy has served in many capacities as Director of Federal Reserve Bank in New York, a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has demonstrated unparalleled commitment to public service and philanthropy.
^M00:59:59 Sandy continues to serve on many board's top organizations and many sectors including education and health care and the arts. And Sandy and his wife Joan had been great friends of the Ford School and of the Ford Family. And I'm pleased to welcome him to the podium to share his thoughts on my mother Betty Ford.
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>> My gosh, just beautiful, beautiful words written down. Not about me but about your mother. And I think that everybody here has said fantastic things about what your mother really accomplished and I just like to say that Joan couldn't be with us today because she has spent all week and has continuing to spend time on picking a new executive director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and therefore she's with her board and her executive committee and apologizes for not being here. But I'd like to read some notes from her that she wanted everybody to know. She says that she's so very sorry to miss this wonderful occasion for a woman I have so much loved and respect for. The very first time we're graciously invited to stay up at the Ford's home for a weekend golf tournament, I really panicked. To stay in the home of former president and first lady, wow! So I called my mother for advice and she said, "Make sure you make your bed." "Thanks, mom." However, when we arrived, everyone was so gracious and put us at ease immediately at least until I used my hairdryer that evening and blew out all the electricity in the house. When the Secret Service realized after searching the whole house and grounds, guns ready, they did inform me that I needed a different hairdryer because of the altitude, my mother did not tell me that. That weekend was the beginning for me of a very special relationship with Mrs. Ford. She was someone I so looked at to and respected. Her honestly and okness thought me a lot. I could talk to her about my troubled son and she gave me good advice. We traveled together a lot for the company and I learned so much from her including how to shop in China, the message was, "Bring a 727." I feel so privileged to have spent time with this very special lady. Those memories will always live me with me always. I would like--like to tell you a little bit about my background with President and Mrs. Ford and talk a little bit about how they can really help influence the future. But before I do that Mike, you know, you know that we really live in a very changing world and it was interesting for me to hear that in--was it 1949 that Michigan beat the Southern Cal, 49 to nothing? In 1951, I was a freshman at Cornell University, I think I've told you this before. And Cornell beat Michigan in Football 13 to 7, never ever to be repeated again.
But I met President Ford and spoke to him in the first time in 1981 right after he decided to get out of active politics and not run against Reagan for the Republican nomination for the president. And I was told to call him up because he might be very interested in going at a board like the company that I ran up that time. And I wrote down in very big print as I dialed the number to call him, "Remember call him, Mr. President. Don't call him Jerry." And I remember that first call and we made a date to meet the next week when he was in New York at Waldorf Astoria and I told them a little bit about what we're doing and he joined our company which was then called Shearson Loeb Rhoades, a year later we merged our company with American Express and President Ford went on to the board of American Express with me and for the next 25 years he participated in every company that I ran right up through Citigroup. He was an incredible contributor to our company through his common sense and talking about things from his experience and Betty was always at his side at all the meetings we went to. We went really literally all over the world with President Ford and Betty to places like Singapore, to Geneva, Paris, London, Hawaii, all over the United States. And they were terrified role models for the people in our company, everybody looked up to them and it was really--great, great relationship. But I think the most important stuff that I think about was when we broke ground for the Ford School here at the University of Michigan, and President Ford and Betty were there and we all had shovels, you know, shoveling that dirt which was supposed to be the dirt where the building was going to be built and talking about how this school can really make a difference and how the Ford School can really a legacy for what Betty stood for and what President Ford stood for. All the things that had been spoken about today but really the special relationship that they had with each other, that Joan and I really saw it firsthand some many, many times and helped us get through, defend arguments that one has in the relationship but understanding the value of a partnership and that we have now been married 57 years and trying to keep up that thing that they taught us.
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I think when we think about our government today and when we think about what the world looks like today, I think we should all think about Betty and her leadership and President Ford and what they did as a team and think about how the Ford school can really turn out better leaders of tomorrow, people that understand that you got to work together, people that understand that, you know, America should be a partnership and we've all found out through the great recession that we've just going through that even through America did some bad things and created a lot of problems there's nobody yet to take the place of the leadership that our country can and should provide to the world. And so I would hope that all of us would think about Betty and think about President Ford everyday and think about how we can make this institution at this university the kind of place that will turn out the leaders that we need to create the world that they would love to see. Thank you very much.
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>> Well, thank you so much, Sandy and Mike and Mary Sue and I should thank Joan as well for her remarks too. Ambassador Brinker, our wonderful dancer, Miki Orihara. I have to say that it has been an honor for us to host this tribute and really an honor to be able to bring together and to share so many wonderful remembrances of the legacy but also of the impact and the power that Mrs. Betty Ford has had on so many lives and continues to have, and so again I'd like to thank everybody who joined us both on the podium speaking, dancing, all of you who have joined us in the audience and have come to help us celebrate and recognized her legacy. Special thanks to all of the members of the Ford family including those who are here with us today. Again, the University of Michigan is so proud of our continued connection with your parents and so pleased that their legacies are alive and well here on campus as we look forward to the many ways that we will continue to keep that vibrancy and that impact alive. So, thanks to all of you for coming to join us today. If you're curios to learn more about this remarkable first lady, again, I'd like to encourage you to visit the Ford Presidential Library and Museum. Again, our honor to celebrate and to look forward, thank you very much for joining us.
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