Susan Ford
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Susan Ford
Susan Ford
Susan Ford 2019.jpg
2nd Chairwoman of the Betty Ford Center

January 25, 2005
Betty Ford
Personal details
Susan Elizabeth Ford

(1957-07-06) July 6, 1957 (age 62)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
  • Charles Vance (m. 1979-1988)
  • Vaden Bales (m. 1989)
Alma materUniversity of Kansas

Susan Elizabeth Ford Bales (born July 6, 1957) is an American author, photojournalist, and former chair of the board of the Betty Ford Center for alcohol and drug abuse. She is the daughter of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States.



Ford is the youngest child and only daughter of former U.S. President Gerald Ford and former First Lady Betty Ford. As a teenager attending the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, she held her senior prom, for the class of 1975, in the East Room of the White House.[1] She served as official White House hostess when her mother was hospitalized for breast cancer.

Ford enrolled in Mount Vernon College for Women (now part of the George Washington University) in northwest Washington, D.C. in 1975 when her father was in the White House. She later transferred to the University of Kansas for the spring semester of 1977.[2]

Susan Ford and Siamese cat "Shan Shein" at the White House in 1974


Ford Bales trained as a photographer and worked as a photojournalist for the Associated Press, Newsweek, Money Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Omaha Sun and also freelanced.[3] She was hired to shoot publicity stills for the film Jaws 2,[4] with many appearing in Ray Loynd's book Jaws 2 Log.[5]

In 1992 she became a member of the board of the Betty Ford Center and in 2005 became chair of the organization. She succeeded her mother, who remained a board member.[6]


In 2002 she wrote, with Laura Hayden, a novel, Double Exposure: A First Daughter Mystery, with a contemporary White House setting; in 2005 a sequel, Sharp Focus, was published.

Public duties

In recent years and in addition to her responsibilities at the Betty Ford Center, Ford has been very active on behalf of her parents and the Ford family at numerous events throughout the US. That was particularly so during the December 26, 2006 - January 3, 2007 state funeral services and ceremonies for her father. During that period, she attended each of the services and ceremonies with her mother, and over the course of several days personally greeted mourners while President Ford's casket lay-in-state on the Lincoln Catafalque in the Capital Rotunda and during the public repose at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[7] She read a passage from the Letter of James during the funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral, and her daughter Tyne Berlanga offered one of the Prayers during the funeral service at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids.[8] In addition, on January 1, she assisted her mother in receiving dignitaries and other official visitors who had come to the President's Guest House (a.k.a. "Blair House") to pay their personal respects.

Susan Ford christens Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in Newport News, Virginia on November 9, 2013

On January 16, 2007, Susan Ford spoke at a Naming Ceremony at the Pentagon.[9] At the ceremony, the aircraft carrier CVN-78 was officially named the Gerald R. Ford. That same day Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter announced that Ford had been named the carrier's ceremonial sponsor. On November 14, 2009, Ford participated in the keel laying for the ship.[10][11]

On June 11, 2007, she delivered remarks in Washington, D.C., at the ceremony unveiling the U.S. Postal Service's image of the commemorative stamp honoring President Ford. In July 2007, Ford represented her mother at the funeral service of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and was the Ford family representatives at the 2018 funerals of Mrs. Barbara Bush and President George H.W. Bush. Also in July 2007, she and her husband Vaden Bales represented Mrs. Ford and the Ford family at the naming of the Gerald R. Ford Post Office in Vail, Colorado.

On November 9, 2013, she christened the Gerald R. Ford with a bottle of sparkling water.[12]

On April 8, 2016, during a change of command ceremony aboard USS Gerald R. Ford and in recognition of her "extraordinary service as CVN 78 Ship Sponsor", she was named an honorary naval aviator by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, thus becoming only the 31st person to receive this honor, and the first woman ever to be so honored.[13] The ship was commissioned as USS Gerald R. Ford on July 22, 2017, with Ford Bales in attendance to give the order, "Man our ship, and bring her to life."

Personal life

She married Charles Vance, one of her father's former U.S. Secret Service agents, on February 10, 1979. For a time they operated a private security company in Washington. They have two daughters, Tyne Mary Vance (born 1980) and Heather Elizabeth Vance (born 1983). Ford and Vance were divorced in 1988. Ford married attorney Vaden Bales in 1989.

In Betty Ford's Betty - A Glad Awakening, her mother credits Susan with having orchestrated an intervention in 1982 after the Ford family became concerned with her drinking, addictions and behavior.[14] In 1984, Ford and her mother, Betty Ford, helped launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month[15] with a joint appearance in an ad campaign.

She and her husband lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after their marriage on July 25, 1989. In 1997 they moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they lived for nearly 12 years before returning to Tulsa in 2009. At age 53 in 2010, Ford went into sudden cardiac arrest while exercising on an elliptical machine. She had no prior knowledge that she had heart disease. Ford says she was "extremely lucky" that while she was in the gym, a surgeon was "walking up the steps" and "shocked" her back. She was revived with an automated external defibrillator. After her recovery, she was given a heart stent and pacemaker. She spoke of the experience on June 4, 2013 at the American Heart Association's Heart Ball in Grand Rapids.[16]


  • Degregorio, William A., The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (5th edition), Barricade Books, Fort Lee, New Jersey, 2001.
  • Wead, Doug, All the President's Children, Atria Books, New York, 2003, ISBN 0-7434-4631-3


  1. ^ "Senior Prom at the White House". Ghosts of DC. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ Maines, Sophia (December 28, 2006). "First daughter briefly attended KU". Lawrence Journal-World. Lawrence, Kansas. Retrieved 2016. Ford enrolled at KU for the spring semester of 1977, studying photojournalism.
  3. ^ " Live Online". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2008-03-29.
  4. ^ Kachmar, Diane C. (2002). Roy Scheider: a film biography. McFarland. p. 76. ISBN 0-7864-1201-1.
  5. ^ Loynd, Ray (1978). The Jaws 2 Log. London: W.H. Allen. ISBN 0-426-18868-3.
  6. ^ "Addiction Treatment - Betty Ford Center - Rancho Mirage, CA".
  7. ^
  8. ^ Religion Blog | The Dallas Morning News Archived 2007-05-09 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-26. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Gerald R. Ford ship ceremony brings Susan Ford Bales, family to Newport News, Virginia", The Grand Rapids Press, 13 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Susan Ford Bales writes her initials onto a metal plate during the keel laying and authentication ceremony", The Navy Newsstand, 14 November 2009.
  12. ^ "It's official: The Navy's newest aircraft carrier is christened in the name of Gerald R. Ford". Daily Press. 9 November 2013.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Romano, Lois (November 8, 2011). "Betty Ford Center's Messy Path After Former First Lady's Death". The Daily Beast.
  15. ^ National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  16. ^ Thomas, Sue (June 4, 2013). "Susan Ford Bales tells of surviving sudden cardiac arrest: 'I was extremely lucky'".

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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