Born:Gerald (Jerry) Rudolph Ford: July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. When Gerald was 12 or 13 he learned that his birth name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr. His name was changed after he was adopted by his stepfather.
Elizabeth (Betty) Ann Bloomer Warren: April 8, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. Betty grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Died:Gerald: December 26, 2006 at the age of 93 at home in Rancho Mirage, California. Gerald Ford had been having medical problems.
Betty: July 8, 2011 at the age of 93.
When Gerald and Betty Met:Betty and Gerald were introduced by friends in August 1947 at a cocktail party. Although Betty said Gerald proposed marriage in the fall of 1947, Gerald said he proposed in February 1948. Their official engagement was in July 1948.
Wedding Date:Gerald left their rehearsal dinner to make a campaign speech. Betty and Gerald were married on October 15, 1948 around 4 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Betty wore a $50 wedding dress. Gerald wore a dark suit and muddy shoes and was late for their wedding because he was out campaigning.
The day after their wedding, they attended a political rally, went to a University of Michigan football game, and heard Thomas Dewey give a speech. Gerald won the election three weeks later.
Joint Interests:Betty and Gerald enjoyed dancing together.
Marriage Issues:Although Gerald thought that their marriage was in fine shape, Betty suffered a nervous breakdown in 1965. He accepted some of the blame and never again took Betty for granted.
Betty on her breakdown: "I was giving too much of myself and not taking any time out for Betty ..."
Source: Kati Marton. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History. 2002. pg. 208.
Childen:Gerald and Betty had four children:
- Michael Gerald Ford: Born March 14, 1950. Michael married Gayle Brumbaugh in 1974. He graduated from divinity school and worked at Wake Forest University. Mike and Gayle have three daughters: Sarah Joyce Ford, Rebekah Elizabeth Ford, Hannah Gayle Ford.
- John (Jack) Gardner Ford: Born March 16, 1952. Jack worked as a park ranger and later began a business, California Infotech. He married Juliann Felando in 1989. Jack and Juliann have two sons: Christian Gerald Ford and Jonathan August Ford.
- Steven Meigs Ford: Born May 19, 1956. Steve was part of the professional rodeo circuit as a team roper and later worked for the National Geographic Society. He breeds Thoroughbred racehorses on his ranch in San Luis Obispo, California. As an actor, Steve had roles both on television and in movies. He is also a motivational speaker.
- Susan Elizabeth Ford: Born July 6, 1957. Susan worked as a photographer and writer. Her first marriage on February 10, 1979 was to Charles Vance, one of her father's Secret Servicemen. Charles and Susan divorced in 1988. Susan and Charles have two daughters: Tyne Mary Vance and Heather Elizabeth Vance. Susan's second marriage was to Vaden Bales, an attorney.
Occupations:Gerald: After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gerald served in the U.S. Navy for four years. After the war he worked as a lawyer. He was elected a member and later Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and appointed as Vice President. 38th President of the United States.
Betty: Dancer, fashion model, department store fashion coordinator. She taught modern dance and used dance as therapy with handicapped children.
Health Issues:Right after moving into the White House, Betty discovered a lump and surgeons performed a radical mastectomy. Gerald sent Betty three dozen of her favorite red roses when she was in the hospital.
Gerald: "The thought that the woman I loved might be taken away from me was almost too much to endure."
Betty: "I think Jerry's real concern was to make me as comfortable as possible -- and to express his love. Perhaps even more so because he realized I might feel disfigured or mutilated. He wanted to reassure me that it made no difference to him; that after all we still loved each other and were just as happy after twenty-six years of marriage."
Source: Kati Marton. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History. 2002. pg. 204.
After leaving the White House, Gerald and their children decided to have a family intervention on Betty's substance abuse. In 1987, Betty admitted to having a dependence on painkillers and alcohol. She sought professional help and founded the Betty Ford Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation in Rancho Mirage, California.
Residence:After their years in Washington, D.C., Gerald and Betty retired to Vail, Colorado and later to Palm Springs, California.
Their most recent residence had been in Rancho Mirage, California.
Religion:Both Betty and Gerald were Episcopalians.
Previous Marriage:Betty was previously married to William Warren from 1942 to 1947.
Books and Resources:The Times of My Life (1978)
by Betty Ford and Chris Chase
Quotes About the Fords' Marriage:Kati Marton, author: "The Ford marriage was a real partnership: he made no major decisions without first talking to his wife."
Source: Kati Marton. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History. 2002. pg. 200.
David Kennerly, official White House photographer: "They were a playful couple. They joked around with each other. His idea at the end of the day was to sit around with her, have dinner with her, just be with her."
Source: Kati Marton. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History. 2002. pg. 206.