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Betty Ford: A free spirit who became an inspiration to millions

Former first lady Betty Ford's triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California. Mrs. Ford passed on Friday.

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In this Jan. 19, 1977 picture, President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford pause for a moment as they pack to leave the White House. On Friday, July 8, 2011, a family friend said that Betty Ford had died at the age of 93.

Eddie Adams/AP

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Betty Ford said things that first ladies just don't say, even today. And 1970s America loved her for it.

According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she'd try it, too. She told "60 Minutes" she wouldn't be surprised to learn that her youngest, 18-year-old Susan, was in a sexual relationship (an embarrassed Susan issued a denial).

She mused that living together before marriage might be wise, thought women should be drafted into the military if men were, and spoke up unapologetically for abortion rights, taking a position contrary to the president's. "Having babies is a blessing, not a duty," Mrs. Ford said.

The former first lady, whose triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California, died Friday at age 93.

"She was a wonderful wife and mother; a great friend; and a courageous First Lady," former President George H.W. Bush said in a statement. "No one confronted life's struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced."

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