The Public Says Goodbye to Betty Ford

Dozens of people got the chance to pay their respects to Former First Lady Betty Ford Tuesday night, following a memorial service at a Palm Desert church. Ford died Friday of natural causes.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dozens of people got the chance to pay their respects to Former First Lady Betty Ford Tuesday night, following a memorial service at a Palm Desert church. Ford died Friday of natural causes. (Published Tuesday, Jul 12, 2011)

    Along with the sunset on Tuesday night, came a growing crowd of mourners at St Margaret's Episcopal Church. Members of the public allowed inside after family and dignitaries left, in final farewell to the former First Lady.

    Betty Ford was known for many things, and a onetime counselor from the addiction center that bears her name says he came by to say thanks.

    "I went to the Betty Ford Center when I needed help with my addiction and entered the outpatient program in 1994. So, Mrs. Ford was instrumental in helping me change my life," according to Jack Andrus, recovering addict.

    Betty Ford's honesty about her breast cancer compelled one man to drive all the way from Los Angeles.

    "She was such an inspiration. She was the first of the modern First ladies. She broke the mold," says Marty Israel, from Los Angeles.

    Volunteers offered everyone a chance to sign the condolence book.

    One worker says she first met Betty Ford on the campaign trail, 35 years ago.

    "My four year old, as all four year old's do said, 'whatdya got on your airplane?' And she was so patient, and she talked to him about all the food, the drink, everything they had on the Air Force One plane," according to Karen Shaw, Rancho Mirage Republican Women.

    Friends and strangers boarded busses in Indian Wells for the chance to visit Mrs Ford lying in repose.

    Despite strict rules for entry handed down by Secret Service and enforced by Riverside deputies, no one complained.

    "I think she did good. We have a lot of love for her, because she was here, and she was part of us," says Sally Villanueva, a Coachella resident.