Skip to main content

Final farewell for former first lady Betty Ford

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Betty Ford honored in Michigan
    NEW: Ford is buried alongside her husband in Michigan
  • "We miss you. God bless you," her son says at an earlier service
  • An ex-president and former vice president are among the attendees
  • Thursday's service is the second of two services this week

(CNN) -- Former first lady Betty Ford was laid to rest Thursday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, alongside her late husband, capping a day of remembrance and reflection.

Bagpipers played "Amazing Grace" as her casket was carried to the burial site on the grounds of the presidential museum named for her husband.

A handful of family members walked behind the casket. The burial service itself was private.

Earlier in the day, Ford's friends and family gathered at Grace Episcopal Church for the former first lady's final farewell.

Packed in among the pews were former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Barbara Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney.

Larry King pays tribute to Betty Ford

Lynne Cheney, whose husband was former President Gerald Ford's chief of staff in the White House and years later became vice president, spoke at the service, which wrapped up shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET.

She said that during the last few years of Ford's life, the former first lady largely kept out of the public view.

Still, "she remained among the most-admired women in the world," said Cheney. "Just the mention of her name brings good and hopeful things to mind."

One of Ford's sons, Steve, also spoke at the service. He praised her ability to love and said that she helped him cope -- as she had helped so many people -- when he was struggling with alcoholism years ago.

"Thank you, Mom, for loving us, loving your husband, loving us kids, loving the nation with the heart of God. We miss you. God bless you," he said.

The casket containing Ford's remains arrived in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. A welcome ceremony was held shortly after the arrival, followed by a private prayer service at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. A public viewing of the casket was held in Grand Rapids Thursday morning.

Ford died Friday at the age of 93. A memorial service on Tuesday was held near where she set up a renowned alcohol and drug abuse treatment facility, the Betty Ford Center, in Rancho Mirage, California.

Among those who attended that ceremony were former President George W. Bush, who escorted former first lady Nancy Reagan to a pew, current first lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who was a close friend of Ford's, described Ford as honest and fearless.

"She was a tireless advocate for those struggling," Carter said in her eulogy. "She was never afraid to speak the truth."

In remarks to reporters Monday, Clinton spoke of Ford's bold commitment to highlighting issues such as alcoholism and breast cancer.

"I remember well when my mother's best friend was dying of breast cancer; nobody talked about it in those days," she said. "But Betty Ford made it acceptable" to discuss those issues in public.

Ford's husband, who was the 38th president of the United States, died in 2006.

CNN's Michael Martinez and Joe Sutton contributed to this story.