USPS logo LINK — USPS employee news Printable

A first lady of ‘extraordinary courage’

USPS dedicates its Betty Ford stamp next to her namesake treatment center

Woman speaks at podium on stage near screen displaying Betty Ford stamp image
Susan Ford Bales speaks during the Betty Ford stamp dedication ceremony.

Betty Ford’s courage and candor were praised during the Postal Service’s April 5 dedication ceremony for the stamp honoring the former first lady.

“She single-handedly redefined the role of the modern first lady, using her platform to speak about issues she cared about,” said Amber McReynolds, vice chair of the USPS Board Governors, who spoke at the ceremony. “Of course, an important part of that legacy was her willingness to be open and transparent about her personal health struggles.” 

The stamp event took place near the substance abuse treatment center named in Ford’s honor in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Other speakers included Susan Ford Bales, Ford’s daughter; Marty Masiello, CEO of Eisenhower Health, the hospital that hosted the ceremony; Dr. Joseph Lee, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation; and Tessa Voss, also of the foundation.

“With this magnificent stamp, the Postal Service and the American people pay tribute to a woman of extraordinary courage and candor, to a transformative first lady and to a devoted wife,” said Bales. “In so doing, they honor a woman that, today and in my every tomorrow, I am so proud to call Mom.”

Born Elizabeth Anne Bloomer in 1918 in Chicago, Ford spent her childhood in Grand Rapids, MI, where she began dancing at age 8. She moved to New York City to study dance under the esteemed Martha Graham, joining her troupe to perform at Carnegie Hall.

She married Gerald R. Ford, a Grand Rapids lawyer, in 1948. He was elected later that year to the first of 13 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gerald Ford was appointed vice president in December 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned.

When the Watergate scandal forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon on Aug. 9, 1974, Ford became the 38th president.

Betty Ford was first lady from 1974 to 1977.

Weeks after entering the White House, Ford disclosed her breast cancer diagnosis. She underwent a mastectomy, which raised awareness of the importance of regular cancer screenings.

During her time as first lady, Ford campaigned tirelessly for the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have mandated constitutional equality for all Americans, regardless of gender.

After leaving the White House, she went public in 1978 with her battle with substance use disorder. Her road to sobriety, together with her desire to help others, led to the founding of the Betty Ford Center for substance dependency in 1982.

“There are times when courageous people stand up and change the conversation for America. Betty Ford did that for both breast cancer and addiction — replacing shame and isolation with dignity, community and equitable care,” said Lee, who leads the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which the Betty Ford Center is now a part of.

Derry Noyes, an art director for USPS, designed the stamp using a detail from the official 1977 White House portrait by Felix de Cossio.

The Betty Ford Forever stamp is available in panes of 20 at Post Offices and