Former First Lady Betty Ford dead at 93

betty-ford-cnn.jpgPresident Gerald Ford's widow, Betty Ford, has passed away at the age of 93, CNN confirms. The former first lady died on Friday evening while surrounded by family at her bedside.

Born in Chicago and raised in Grand Rapids, Betty moved to New York City at the age of 21 to work as a dancer and a model. She married Gerald Ford -- her second marriage -- in 1948, the same year he campaigned to become a U.S. Congressman. The couple were wed for 58 years, until his death in 2006. They had three sons and a daughter.

After 25 years as Congressman, Ford became President Nixon's Vice President in 1973, and took office after Nixon resigned as a result of the Watergate scandal. As First Lady, Betty campaigned for equal rights and spoke frankly about abortion and premarital sex.

After Ford lost his bid for reelection, Betty's struggle with addiction went public. She was treated for alcohol and prescription painkiller abuse. In recovery, she would become an advocate for drug and alcohol treatment, co-founding the Betty Ford Center, a world-renowned treatment center and recovery hospital in California.

Ford also dedicated significant time to breast cancer research and awareness.
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