Honoring Betty Ford " ‘Vail’s First Lady’
VAIL ” Nationally, Betty Ford is known for setting a new standard for the office of First Lady in the years her husband served as president of the United States. A recovering alcoholic and breast cancer survivor, Ford is known locally for her contributions to the Vail Valley community, and a new book is honoring her commitment.
“Betty Ford, Vail Valley’s First Lady,” was commissioned by the board of directors for Vail’s Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Written by two local authors, Elizabeth Eber and Jane Imbers, the book will be presented to Betty Ford at a tribute ceremony Aug. 7.
“There are so many people who don’t know about all they’ve done here and all their contributions,” said June Vanourek, president of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens’ board of directors.
The group conducted dozens of interviews with Vail Valley residents who know Betty Ford, Vanourek said. The result is a 50-page book that surveys the former First Lady’s beginnings as a young girl ” whose most fervent wish was to be a dancer ” to her role in bringing the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships to Vail.
When first approached about the tribute, Betty Ford “demurred,” Vanourek writes in the book’s forward. When told that the alpine gardens were in need of an endowment fund, she quickly agreed, Vanourek said.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
In addition to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Ford helped support the formation of the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group and the Vail International Dance Festival. The Fords, who continue to summer in the area, were one of the first to build a home in Beaver Creek.
Many of Ford’s contributions to the Vail Valley are visible today, Eber said.
“I would hope that (local residents) would get out of it how very much Betty Ford did for the valley and what an incredible person she is,” Eber said.
Longtime Vail resident Dick Hauserman recalled the first time he met the Fords. It was 1968, and Gerald Ford was a U.S. representative from Michigan at the time. The couple were dining at Pepi’s
Restaurant in Vail. From then on, the two became significant contributors to Vail’s growth as a premier ski resort, Hauserman said.
“We are very fortunate to have them come here,” he said. “They have been very generous of their time. Everybody loves them and Betty, with her background, has been just wonderful.”
Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or firstname.lastname@example.org.