Former first lady Betty Ford died Friday at age 93. This article was originally published in The Post’s Home section on Jan. 16, 1992.

Former First Lady Betty Ford was interviewed by telephone Jan. 10 from Gerald R. Ford’s office in Rancho Mirage, Calif.


President Gerald Ford is greeted by his wife Betty, and sons Jack, left, and Steve, on the South Lawn of the White House after his brush with a would-be assassin in San Francisco in December of 1975. (Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Our children had all grown up in Washington so they had some idea of what would be expected of them. They were pretty comfortable with being congressional “rats,” so to speak -- and it piqued their desire to be more laid back than I probably would have liked.

Steve used to ride his motorcycle and his yellow jeep up to the entrance. It was good as long as it didn’t interfere with protocol. I encouraged them to have their friends over -- there was plenty of space on the third floor for that.


President and Mrs. Ford and daughter Susan admire their golden retriever, Liberty, and her litter of puppies in September 1975. (WH/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

You could shut the door and not be interrupted whereas at the end of the hall, you felt the staff could walk in and out at any time. I suppose you could have just told them not to. The Secret Service does not come up to the private quarters but they are very aware of the stairs and the elevator.

You feel somewhat alone {in the White House} because you no longer have your neighbors. You also feel very much that you are in that proverbial fishbowl everybody talks about. You can be too busy with affairs of state and lose the closeness with your old friends. We had informal gatherings on the second floor to keep up those personal contacts. We had little informal buffet dinners.

One of my happiest memories was our wedding anniversary on the 15th of October and I was still recuperating {from a mastectomy}. Tennessee Ernie Ford had a group that he had taken overseas to entertain. Someone got the brilliant idea to have them come in after president Ford and I had our private lunch in the Red Room. They sang the “Anniversary Waltz” to us. It was corny but great.

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Read a story about her bravery from 2006