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Susan Ford Bales

Susan Ford
Born July 6, 1957 (1957-07-06) (age 52)
Washington D.C., United States
Title Chairman of the Board,
Betty Ford Center
Spouse(s) Vaden Bales, 1989 - present
Charles Vance, 1979 -1988
Parents Gerald R. Ford, Betty Ford

Susan Ford Bales (née Susan Elizabeth Ford, formerly Vance, born July 6, 1957), is an American author, photojournalist, and chairman of the board of the Betty Ford Center for alcohol and drug abuse.





Ford Bales is the youngest child and only daughter of the late U.S. President Gerald R. Ford and his wife Betty. She was one of three people targeted for violence by the Symbionese Liberation Army and had Secret Service protection well before her father became president. As a teenager attending the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, she held her senior prom in the East Room of the White House. She served as official White House hostess when her mother was hospitalized for breast cancer.


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.[1] She was hired to shoot publicity stills for the film Jaws 2,[2] with many appearing in Ray Loynd's book Jaws 2 Log.[3]

In 1992 she became a member of the board of the Betty Ford Center and in 2005 became the chairman of the organization. She succeeded her mother, who remained a board member.[4]


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

Public duties

In recent years and in addition to her responsibilities at the Betty Ford Center, Susan 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. [5] 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 Church in Grand Rapids. [6] In addition, on January 1, she assisted her mother in receiving dignitaries and other official visitors who had come to Blair House to pay their personal respects.

On January 16, 2007, Susan Ford spoke at a Naming Ceremony at the Pentagon.[1] At the ceremony, the aircraft carrier CVN-78, now under construction, was officially named the USS Gerald R. Ford. That same day Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter announced that Susan had been named the carrier's ceremonial sponsor. On November 14, 2009, Susan participated in the keel laying for the ship.[7], [8]

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, Susan represented her mother at the funeral service of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. 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.

Personal life

Susan Ford in 1974 with Shan

She dated actor Anson Williams while her father served as president.

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 had two daughters, Tyne Mary (born 1980) and Heather Elizabeth (born 1983), but were divorced in 1988. Susan married attorney Vaden Bales in 1989.

In 1984, Ford Bales and her mother, Betty Ford, helped launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month[9] 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. Like her parents and brothers, Susan is Episcopalian.


  • 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


External links


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