the Modern First Ladies- A New Face – Betty Ford

First Lady Elizabeth Ford

Elizabeth Anne (Betty) Bloomer was born in Chicago on April 8, 1918 and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to William Bloomer  a traveling salesman and Hortense Neahr Bloomer who worked in the un-salaried position of President of the Crippled Children Association of Grand Rapids. The petite blue-eyed  beauty began dancing at an early and according to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library age upon graduation from Central High School in 1936, she attended the Bennington School of Dance, in Vermont. She continued her studies  in New York City, becoming a member of her Auxiliary Performance Troupe and performing at Carnegie Hall.

Betty Ford portrait

In 1941 Betty returned to Grand Rapids where she took a job as a fashion coordinator at an exclusive department store and continued her interest in dance, forming her own performance group.  Her passion for dance and helping others  led her to volunteer  with handicapped children, teaching the joy of rhythm and movement in dance.

Betty and Gerald Ford

In 1947, a friend introduced Betty to Gerald R. Ford, Jr., a young lawyer who had served as Navy lieutenant during World War II. According to the Ford Library,by February  1948 the couple was engaged. Eight months later they were married on October 15, 1948, two weeks before Mr. Ford was elected to his first term in Congress. They moved to Washington D.C. where he served as member of the House of Representatives for 25 years.

The Fashionable Betty Ford

While in Congress, the Fords lived in Alexandria, Virginia and had four children.


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