The First Lady

Mrs. Gerald R. Ford (Elizabeth Anne Bloomer) was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 8, 1918, the daughter of Hortense and William Stephenson Bloomer. She moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her family, when she was three years old.

At the age of eight, Betty Bloomer began studying dance, which developed into a lifelong interest. After graduation from Central High School in Grand Rapids in 1936, she attended two summer sessions of the Bennington School of Dance in Vermont, where she first met Martha Graham. She continued her dance career with Miss Graham in New York City, eventually as a member of the Martha Graham Concert group. She also modeled part-time with the John Powers Agency.

Betty Bloomer returned to Grand Rapids in 1941 and became a fashion coordinator for a department store. She also formed her own dance group and taught dance to handicapped children.

On October 15, 1948, she married Gerald R. Ford, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 5th District only weeks after their wedding.

The Fords lived in Alexandria, Virginia, and became the parents of four children. Mrs. Ford's activities during the 1950's and 1960's concentrated on her husband and family. Keeping up with three sons, Mike, Jack, Steve, and daughter, Susan, left time only for extensive involvement with the Republican Party and the Episcopal Church.

Her husband's confirmation as Vice President in 1973 brought new responsibilities, which increased when he became President in August, 1974.

As First Lady, Mrs. Ford has continued her interest in the arts and handcrafts and focused attention on handicapped children and women's issues.

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