Former First Lady Betty Ford, Longtime Alexandria Resident, Dies at 93
The Fords called the area home for 20 years
ormer first lady Betty Ford, a longtime Northern Virginia resident, died Friday night at the age of 93 in California, surrounded by her family, according to news reports.
Alexandria was home to the Ford family for more than 20 years. The family moved to a rental property in Parkfairfax in 1951, when Gerald Ford was in his second term in Congress (R-Michigan), according to the City of Alexandria Web site.
The family moved to their home at 514 Crown View Drive, in Alexandria’s Clover neighborhood, in the spring of 1955, where they remained until a few days after Ford became president.
During Ford’s 12th term in Congress, President Nixon nominated him as vice president, after Spiro T. Agnew resigned. Ford became vice president on Dec. 6, 1973. President Nixon, embroiled in the Watergate scandal, resigned less than a year later, and Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States on August 9, 1974.
President Ford and his family continued to live at Crown View Drive for 10 days before moving to the White House.
During the Fords’ years in Alexandria, they were active in community affairs and the children attended Alexandria City Public Schools. According to Mayor Euille, who attended T.C. Williams High School with the two oldest Ford sons, the president visited the schools “as a parent, a speaker to government classes, and an athletic booster for his sports-minded children,” he noted on the city's Web site.
According to the city Web site, the president commuted down I-395 from Alexandria to the White House during those first 10 days of his term. According to an August 24, 1975 issue of Time Magazine: “Preceded by a police car and trailed by four other vehicles, including a Secret Service station wagon and a press van, his limousine was hard to miss. Many motorists waved a cheerful if somewhat bemused good-morning as the Chief Executive, immersed in his morning newspapers, sailed past them in the lane reserved for buses and car pools.”
Betty Ford later wrote: “For me, leaving the White House wasn’t nearly so much of a wrench as leaving our house in Alexandria.”
The Fords, married for 58 years, had four children, three sons and one daughter: Michael Gerald Ford, 61; John (Jack) Gardner Ford, 59; Steven Meigs Ford, 55, and Susan Elizabeth Ford [Vance Bales], who turned 54 on Wednesday.
President Ford passed away on Dec. 26, 2006, also at the age of 93. In honor of his years in Alexandria, his funeral motorcade passed through Alexandria on Dec. 30, as it traveled from Andrews Air Force Base en route to the U. S. Capitol. Hundreds of Alexandrians lined the streets to say farewell to one of their most famous residents.
Betty Ford was born Betty Bloomer in Chicago on April 8, 1918. She was a model and a dancer and was previously married before marrying Gerald Ford. She founded the Betty Ford Clinic after battling alcoholism.
Betty Ford also promoted awareness and research on breast cancer, with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation naming an award in her honor.
Editor's Note: Much of the information for this article was taken from information provided by the City of Alexandria.