Cameras shuttered but the crowds remained silent as uniformed officers’ took Betty Ford’s casket into Grace Episcopal Church Thursday afternoon.
John Smith walked a few blocks from his home in East Grand Rapids to watch. Smith says despite their station in life, the Ford’s never lost touch with working Americans.
“The Fords’ represent the Camelot of the common man, and what the regular guy could aspire to as a way to live and a way to be happy and they achieved it.”
The funeral took place in the same church where the Ford’s were married in 1948. Michigan’s Governor, former congressmen, ambassadors, and other politicians entered the church along with Ford’s family and friends.
Taina Ortez looks on from just outside the barricade. Ortez called Betty Ford a pioneer for women 30 years ago.
“She really pavement the way a lot of us younger women in terms of being ok and not having to be perfect; struggling in the home life, or dealing with alcoholism, or breast cancer, or the abortion issue.”
Ford was an avid pro-choice supporter. She started the Betty Ford center for those dealing with substance abuse.
National and state politicians rode in a procession of black Cadillacs and commercial tour busses from the neighborhood church to the Ford Presidential museum in downtown Grand Rapids.
Jim Rauwerda held up a faded red yard sign that reads “President Ford 76”.
“It’s been in the basement for a number of years. We pulled it out for Jerry’s funeral.”
Jim’s teenage daughter Anny Rauwerda says she’s learned a lot about the former first lady since her death last week.
“She helps people get mammograms for breast canacer and she helped people with substance abuse and she helped the USA.”
Ford was 93 year old. She was laid to rest in a lush, shady area near the Grand River.
People can sign a condolence book at the presidential museum through mid-August.