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Betty Ford funeral in Palm Desert on Tuesday

July 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
First lady Michelle Obama, as well as former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Rosalynn Carter and Nancy Reagan will pay their respects Tuesday to the late Betty Ford.

The 93-year-old died Friday at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

She will be eulogized Tuesday by Carter, journalist Cokie Roberts and a former director of the Betty Ford Center. All were chosen by Ford herself with specific instructions to focus on friendships, a less partisan Washington of years gone by and her passion for helping people overcome substance and alcohol abuse.

Ford was known for a lot of things as the former first lady, but perhaps most for her openness in dealing with her fight against breast cancer and addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol.

"Today, I am a very grateful recovering alcoholic and I know firsthand that treatment does work," Ford once said.

Ford is held in high regard in the Palm Springs area. Not only did she and Gerald Ford live in Rancho Mirage for more than 30 years, but in 1982 she founded the Betty Ford Center, a treatment and rehabilitation center to help those dealing with addiction.

The Fords attended St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.

At Sunday service, many worshippers stopped to share their thoughts and memories of the former first lady.

"She's wonderful, she's beautiful," said. "I saw both of the Fords here. They came a lot."

The funeral service for Ford is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday at St. Margaret's. The viewing begins at 11 a.m.

The public will be allowed to attend from 5 p.m. through midnight. Those wishing to attend will be able to park their cars at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and be shuttled to the church for free beginning at 4 p.m. Officials recommend arriving at the tennis garden before 3 p.m. No large bags, backpacks or strollers will be allowed.

Other notable guests will be former California first lady Maria Shriver as well as former President Bill Clinton. The four Ford children will attend both this ceremony and another in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Thursday.

On Wednesday, her body will be flown to Grand Rapids where her husband is interred at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. At another church service Thursday, Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and historian Richard Norton Smith will eulogize her.

Later Thursday, her body will be interred at the museum on the day that would have been Gerald Ford's 98th birthday.

ABC7 will stream the Betty Ford funeral live at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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