Michelle Obama to attend Ford service in California

By Mary Slosson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - First lady Michelle Obama will attend a memorial service for former first lady Betty Ford in California on Tuesday, the White House said.

Also in attendance at the service in Palm Desert, east of Los Angeles, will be U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and former first lady Nancy Reagan.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter and National Public Radio journalist Cokie Roberts will deliver eulogies, the Elizabeth B. Ford National Tribute Committee said.

Ford, wife of late President Gerald Ford who helped found a rehabilitation clinic that bears her name, died on Friday at the age of 93.

The Palm Desert service will begin with a private visitation at Saint Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, followed by a private service attended by the dignitaries, the committee said.

The public will have an opportunity to view her body in repose from 5 p.m. local time until midnight at the church.

Ford's body will depart the following morning for Grand Rapids, Michigan, where it will again lie in repose.

A final private ceremony will occur at the Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids at 2 p.m. local time on Thursday. Betty Ford's remains will be interred next to her husband's at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

Ford, who was once dubbed the "fighting first lady" by Time magazine for her outspoken political views, was a vocal supporter of women's rights while her husband was president from 1974 to 1977.

She also led early efforts to raise awareness of the battle against breast cancer after undergoing a mastectomy in 1974, less than two months after her husband succeeded disgraced Richard Nixon as president.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)

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