- (Reuters/Mike Theiler)
First Lady Michelle Obama will be in California today to attend the funeral service of former first lady Betty Ford this afternoon.
Ford, the wife of Republican President Gerald R. Ford who served from 1974 to 1977, passed away Friday at the age of 93 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Obama will visit Palm Desert, Calif., for the funeral of Mrs. Ford.
The invitation-only event will be a private funeral service and is expected to draw about 1,000 family members, dignitaries and guests. Also in attendance will be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be joined by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and former first lady Nancy Reagan.
The Palm Desert service will begin at Saint Margaret's Episcopal Church with a private visitation, and will be followed by a private service attended by the dignitaries.
The public will later have an opportunity to view Ford at the church from 5 p.m. until midnight.
A final private ceremony will take place at the Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids at 2 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Betty Ford was born on April 8, 1918, as Elizabeth Anne Bloomer. During her time as first lady from 1974 to 1977, she was active in social policy and was considered a politically active first lady.
Ford was also noted for raising breast cancer awareness following a mastectomy, and was a passionate supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
She is survived by four children: Michael, Jack, Steven and Susan.