Friday, April 8th is former First Lady Betty Ford's birthday. She would have been 104 years old. She passed away at the age of 93 on July 8th, 2011.

To celebrate Mrs. Ford's birthday, the Gerald R. Ford Museum will be letting people visit the museum for FREE on Friday.

Betty Ford's Story

Elizabeth Bloomer was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1918. She grew up in Grand Rapids and graduated from Central High School. She studied dance in New York City for a short time after high school, but returned back to Grand Rapids where she worked for Herpolshiemer's Department Store. She also taught dance at various locations in the city.

On October 15th, 1948, she married lawyer and World War II veteran Gerald Ford at Grace Episcopal Church. Gerald Ford went on to become not only a local politician, but became the 38th President of the United States when then President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.

The permanent exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum allows visitors to experience some of the highlights from President and Mrs. Ford's lives. Along with the permanent exhibits, visitors can find temporary exhibits featuring artifacts from Museums all over the country. One of the current exhibits includes Women in Uniform. The exhibit is a tribute to the enduring contribution women have made to the armed forces. It will be on display until May.

The Gerald R. Ford Museum Dedication in 1981

The Ford Museum opened to the public in September 1981. The dedication was a huge event that had former Presidents in attendance along with many leaders of foreign countries. Comedian Bob Hope served as master of ceremonies for the dedication. A Bob Hope TV special was also taped at DeVos Performance Hall for NBC.

Here is a video of President Gerald Ford giving a tour of his Presidential Museum...

The Gerald R. Ford Museum May Have Been Featured on "The Simpsons"

In 2020, "The Simpsons" featured an episode that included a joke about the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library (located in Ann Arbor). In the episode called "Hail to the Teeth", Milhouse is talking to Lisa about their fictional honeymoon. He says he will take her to Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario. One of the stops will be the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, but the picture that Milhouse drew looks more like the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and not the Library...

Visiting the Gerald R. Ford Museum

If you want to check out the Gerald R. Ford Museum for FREE on Friday, April 8th, the museum will be open from 10 am to 5 pm. You can get additional information about the Gerald R. Ford Museum here.

The Gerald R. Ford Museum is located at 303 Pearl St. NW, along the west side of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.


ABC's of Grand Rapids

Here is an interesting, alphabetical look at the people and places that played a part in Grand Rapids history.

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