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Betty Ford at Pepperdine: Today’s featured digital object

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Betty Ford and Pearl Williams

As we say goodbye to Betty Ford, who passed away last Saturday, we remember her not just as the consummate first lady, but as a great friend of Pepperdine University. Mrs. Ford made two notable appearances at Pepperdine during her husband’s presidency. On May 19, 1975, at the height of her battle with breast cancer, Mrs. Ford made a special appearance at Pepperdine’s Foster Grandparents Day ceremony, which took place at the old Los Angeles campus. The ceremony honored 109 elderly volunteers in a federally sponsored, Pepperdine administered program that matched at-risk and developmentally challenged children with elder companions. In this photo, we see Mrs. Ford congratulating Pearl Williams, the oldest of the foster grandparents, who also celebrated her 106th birthday at the event.

Later that same year, on September 20, Betty Ford returned to Pepperdine University, this time to Malibu to accompany her husband’s dedication of the Brock House and the Firestone Fieldhouse. Notably, the great benefactor honored at this event, ambassador Leonard K. Firestone, would go on to provide the financial backing for the Betty Ford Center in 1982.

In honor of her memory, I invite you to view photographs of Betty Ford at these Pepperdine events in our University Archives digital photograph collection.

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