GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ) – Hundreds, or even thousands, of Michiganders are expected to pay their respects as the body of former First Lady Betty Ford lies in repose in Grand Rapids.
Newsradio 950 spoke with Rod Kackley who is covering the services for Grand Rapids’ Wood Radio. He said a huge crowd is expected at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
“I would imagine thousands. I really do. I mean, Grand Rapids knew Betty Ford as Betty Bloomer … just an average middle-aged girl who had a dream of being a dancer,” said Kackley.
“She’s just a Grand Rapids girl. People just hold her close to their hearts here,” he said.
Speaking at a short service Wednesday evening, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and said Ford would want everyone to celebrate her life as a wife, mother and as a public figure.
“We all try to be better people. And, in life, I’ve spent my life looking for role models of who I could emulate someone’s life to say, here’s someone that’s it right and done extraordinary things, and Betty Ford was a person who was extraordinary in so many different dimensions of her life,” Snyder said.
“She was truly a leader by her actions and her speech,” he said.
Ford’s body will lie in repose at the museum until 11 p.m. Wednesday, and again Thursday morning.
“I would say it’s an honor to have our First Lady home, and we are hoping that everyone participates,” said Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong.
Ford is to be buried at the presidential museum alongside her husband, Gerald Ford, who died on December 26, 2006.
“When they built the museum they knew that this would be the final resting place of Gerald and Betty Ford,” said Kackley. “They are literally on the banks of the Grand River, right beside the Ford museum … Their grave site is in a little hill, and Gerald Ford’s been their since 2007 waiting for her,” he said.
A formal funeral service is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids. Former President Bill Clinton is among those expected to attend.