9 Jul 2011

Women's rights crusader and former First Lady Betty Ford dies

4:06 pm on 9 July 2011

Former US First Lady Betty Ford, the widow of former President Gerald Ford and founder of a drug treatment facility that bears her name, has died at the age of 93.

Mrs Ford, who was known for her strong opinions on public issues, established the drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in 1982.

Mrs Ford was considered one of the most visible first ladies in US history and was married to Mr Ford, who died in 2006, for 58 years.

"As our nation's First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women's health and women's rights," President Barack Obama said, following the news of Mrs Ford's death.

He added: "After leaving the White House, Mrs Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment."