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Private memorial for Betty Ford will be Tuesday in Palm Desert

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will be among those delivering eulogies for the wife of the nation's 38th president.

July 10, 2011|By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
  • Betty Ford waits to be introduced for a speech at the Richard Nixon Library. During the speech, Ford told the audience that being first lady was a demanding task "that came with no job description."
Betty Ford waits to be introduced for a speech at the Richard Nixon Library.… (Alexander Gallardo / Los…)

Reporting from Palm Desert — A private memorial for former First Lady Betty Ford will be held in Palm Desert on Tuesday, with a eulogy to be delivered by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, before her remains are flown to Michigan and laid to rest beside her husband, a family representative said Saturday.

Ford, 93, died of natural causes Friday afternoon, surrounded by family members at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. She had been hospitalized with a brief illness but, contrary to some news reports, did not suffer a stroke, said Greg Willard, the Fords' longtime attorney.

"I wanted to express the gratitude and thanks of the Ford family for the magnificent outpouring of sympathy that they have received literally from around the world. It's been, quite frankly, heartwarming beyond measure," Willard said during an afternoon news conference.

Photos: Life of former First Lady Betty Ford

Details of Ford's illness were not released, and no family members attended the news conference.

Tuesday's memorial will begin at 11:20 a.m. at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert. Eulogies will be given by Carter, news commentator Cokie Roberts and Geoffrey Mason, director of the Betty Ford Center.

A public visitation will be held at the church starting at 3 p.m., with shuttles provided from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

As the wife of Gerald R. Ford, the nation's 38th president, Betty Ford was an outspoken advocate for women's rights and health.

She is known worldwide for the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, a treatment center for alcohol and chemical dependency that she founded after overcoming her own addiction to painkillers.

Photos: Life of former First Lady Betty Ford

phil.willon@latimes.com

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