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Michigan Matters: Celebrating First Lady Betty Ford & Frankenmuth's Dorothy Zehnder

Southfield (CBS Detroit) - As Women's History Month continues, it's a "Michigan Matters" spotlight on two dynamic leaders from our state – former First Lady Betty Ford and Dorothy Zehnder, the 101-year-old restaurant owner from Frankenmuth. 

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1976, November 3 – Second Floor - West Sitting Room - Washington, DC – GRF – walking toward camera, head down, holding piece of paper - Election Night Activities

Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late First Lady and President Gerald Ford, who now lives in Texas, talked with Senior Producer/Host Carol Cain about her Mother and the White House years in this special encore episode.  Bales was a teen when her Dad was suddenly thrust into the presidency after President Richard M. Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal. 

Susan Ford Bales
Michigan Matter Host Carol Cain, with Susan Ford Bales, Daughter of First Lady Betty Ford and President Gerald R. Ford

Bales talked about her Mother, who was raised in Grand Rapids, and how she talked with such candor about important issues that were controversial at the time including substance abuse and alcohol addiction, and surviving breast cancer, as Mrs. Ford also dealt with them. 

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1975, November 10 – Third Floor - Solarium – White House – Washington, DC – Betty Ford, Susan Ford – sitting in front of tree, making Christmas tree ornaments; Betty Ford in red apron – Photo Opportunity for Parade Magazine; Christmas

Bales recalled lighter moments too including having her high school prom at the White House. 

Donald Holloway, former curator of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, also appeared with Cain to talk about Mrs. Ford's impact. He also discussed the unique relationship between the late President and Mrs. Ford. 

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1974, August 9 - The White House - East Room - Washington, DC - Gerald R. Ford, Betty Ford, Chief Justice Warren Burger- Betty Ford holds the family bible as Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger

Then Dorothy Zehnder, who turned 101 on Dec. 1, 2022, discusses her inspiring life and career as she helped build Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Frankenmuth with her late husband, Tiny. Several generations of the family work there. 

Dorothy Zehnder
Michigan Matter Host Carol Cain, withDorothy Zehnder, Co-Founder, Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant
DZ in kitchen
Inside Bavarian Inn Restaurant kitchen with Dorothy Zehnder (Credit: Bavarian Inn Restaurant)

Judith Zehnder Keller,  founder and President of Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge, the couple's daughter, also worked in the business. Mrs. Keller, who died last year of cancer, talked about her Mother and her impact. Dorothy was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2020. 

Bav Inn Z family - Oct 2020
October 2020 in Frankenmuth of Dorothy's family (4 generations together) when she received Michigan Hall of Fame Award, photo credit Zehnder family member

Mrs. Keller also was a trailblazer for women in business as well as politics as she shared thoughts on how things have changed for women through the years. 

Judith Zehnder Keller
Michigan Matter Host Carol Cain, with Judith Zehnder Keller, Co-Founder & President, Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant

Watch MICHIGAN MATTERS, Sunday at 8am on CBS Detroit

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