Alumni News, In Memoriam

Remembering Former First Lady, Bennington Dancer Betty Ford (1918-2011)

The Bennington community joins the nation in mourning the loss of beloved former First Lady Betty Ford, who died on July 8 at the age of 93.

Image of Betty Ford

Mrs. Ford, an outspoken women's rights advocate who famously overcame addiction and founded one of the nation's best known rehabilitation centers, attended the Bennington School of the Dance from 1936 to 1938, eventually joining faculty member Martha Graham's Auxiliary Performance Troupe and performing at Carnegie Hall.

After moving back to her home state of Michigan, she formed her own dance group and worked with disabled children, helping them experience the rhythm of dance—beginning a lifetime of philanthropic work.

As First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Ford became a champion for breast-cancer awareness, abortion rights, and the Equal Rights Amendment. After a public battle against addiction to alcohol and pain medication, she founded the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse, and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for public service in 1998.

Read her obituary in The New York Times.