R.I.P. Betty Ford

The NY Times remembers Betty Ford:

“It’s hard to make anyone understand what it’s like to have your name on something, to be given credit for things you haven’t done,” Mrs. Ford wrote. “I’ve been at meetings where someone turned and thanked me, and I hugged the person and said, ‘Don’t thank me, thank yourself, you’re the one who did it, with God’s help.’ From the beginning, we have wanted every patient at the center to feel, ‘I’m important here, I have some dignity.’ ”

“I am an ordinary woman who was called onstage at an extraordinary time,” she wrote in the prologue to her first autobiography. “I was no different once I became first lady than I had been before. But through an accident of history, I had become interesting to people.”

Her impact on the cultural context of alcoholism cannot be overstated:

No disclosure exerted more profound cultural ripples than that of First Lady Betty Ford. Her story put a face and voice on the recovering woman that challenged two centuries of stereotypes and inspired many addicted women in America to seek treatment. That more than half of those treated at the Betty Ford Center today are women stands as living testimony to the lasting effects of her courage.