At the heart of a honoring former first lady Betty Ford sits a vibrant Palm Desert church, where past presidents and first ladies will gather today to honor the Rancho Mirage resident.
The Fords starting attended the church after .
Jeff Roberts, a congregant at St. Margaret’s, said his family sat directly across from where the Fords sat on Sunday mornings.
“We as a family never tried to intrude on their time at the church, but they were always so friendly and took the time to talk with everyone, including the children,’’ Roberts told Patch.
He said the Fords were popular because they “really showed great Christian values in how they dealt with and interacted with everyone.”
They attended regularly until President Gerald Ford’s health began to fail, he said.
“I feel it was a great honor to have met them and attended church with them,’’ Roberts said.
Founded in 1964, the 1,200-member congregation at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church has grown to be the largest of 50 parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.
Rev. Lane G. Hensley became rector of St. Margaret’s in July 2010, following his move from Illinois.
The church has a strong presence in the community, hosting seven recovery groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and a Co-Dependency group.
St. Margaret’s Outreach Center distributes food boxes to more than 50 families each week and also provides clothing, blankets and children’s books to the community, according to the church’s website.
A private viewing is set to begin at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday, July 12, with a private national memorial service at 2 p.m., and she will lie in repose starting at 5 p.m.
Ford died Friday at the age of 93.