PALM DESERT (CBS) — Tuesday’s memorial service for former first lady Betty Ford, who died Friday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage at the age of 93, will be attended by current and former first ladies Michelle Obama, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter.

Carter is scheduled to deliver one of the eulogies, along with National Public Radio news analyst Cokie Roberts and Geoffrey Mason, former director of the Betty Ford Center, according to Ford family representatives.

A private visitation at 11:20 a.m. will precede the 2 p.m. service at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, where Ford and her late husband, Gerald, had worshipped since moving to the region after he left office in 1977.

She will later be buried next to her husband at the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. He died in 2006, also at the age of 93.

Betty Ford was a champion for breast-cancer awareness, abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment while first lady. But she will probably be best remembered for her public battle against addiction to alcohol and pain pills and for co-founding the addiction-treatment center that bears her name.

Her four children — Michael Gerald, 61; John Gardner, 59; Steven Meigs, 55; and Susan Ford Bales, 54 — issued a statement after their mother’s death, saying her “love, candor, devotion and laughter enriched our lives and the lives of millions she touched throughout this great nation.”

“To be in her presence was to know the warmth of a truly great lady. Mother’s passing leaves a deep void, but it also fills us with immeasurable appreciation for the life we and Dad shared with her.”

Betty Ford, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, served as chair of the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage until she was 88.

Certain roads will be closed and traffic diverted during the memorial services and public viewing. State Route 74 will be closed from Mesa View Drive to Grapevine Street from 4 a.m. Tuesday to 1 a.m. Wednesday and northbound traffic will be diverted east on Mesa View Drive and then north on to Portola Avenue. South bound traffic must take Portola Avenue to westbound Mesa View Drive, then south on 74.

Motorists were also advised to avoid Monterey Avenue between Highway 111 and Grapevine Street.

Route 74 from St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church to Palm Springs International Airport, and major intersections, will close briefly for Ford’s motorcade at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (3)
  1. Tim says:

    Who really writes these articles with such poor grammar in the heading for public consumption…..

  2. Shayk says:

    Another event inwhich the overbearing current First Lady will try and make it about her self. She, like her husband, is a consistant source of embarassment to civilization.

  3. Karen says:

    What is with the ADDICTION ANGLE?

    Wake up media. I realize that most of you are only 30 and were not alive when Gerald Ford was President, but to say that Betty Ford was most known for her addiction problem IS ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS.

    Betty Ford was an outspoken woman when it was not fashionable for women to be outspoken. She took risks that others did not dare take. All so that you could write about her when you grew up and then smack her by saying she’s best known for her addiction.


    It’s not how you should remember her either.

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