Betty Ford made a difference to millions of Americans who were either stricken by cancer or struggled with addiction.  While it is sad to say good-bye to one of our best first ladies, her life should be celebrated, for she made an enormous difference to countless others who would have suffered needlessly if it were not for her dedication, transparency and honesty.

Ford’s candor in confronting the stigma over cancer and the misunderstanding over addiction will remain her lasting legacy.  Sure, there was her advocacy of the Equal Rights Amendment, and her challenge of social norms--not to mention the gasps she elicited when she said she would share a bed with the president.  But her ability to get people to talk about cancer, to get checked, and her views that addition should be treated like an allergy or illness, not as shame, are why we say good-bye to a trailblazer.  Perhaps Betty Ford’s legacy is for her work she completed after she left the White House in 1977.  Regardless, at a time when our politics are so toxic and polarized, let’s take some solace in that there was a time when our leaders, regardless of their political persuasions, could work together.

Read about the passing of another 1970s icon, Dick Williams, here.

The grace with which Betty Ford carried herself shows below.  Her husband, Jerry Ford, lost his voice after a hard-fought re-election campaign, which he lost to Jimmy Carter.  She spoke for him to his supporters, and that clip from C-Span is here:

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.