Ford Auction includes hidden treasures, benefits local organizations

Ford Auction includes hidden treasures, benefits local organizations

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - "It was just something that was tucked away so we hadn't seen it," said Jan Hart, executive assistant to the president of the Betty Ford Center and Ford's former assistant.

A Cartier 18 carat gold brooch shaped like a 'W' was given to First Lady Betty Ford when she was named a Woman of the Year by Ladies Home Journal in 1976.

"It's fairly sizeable and has a good-size diamond in it and I think that would be something really great for one person that's going to bid on that," said Hart. 

The precious item and about a thousand others belonging to long time valley residents Gerald and Betty Ford were on sale at special auction Saturday.  Proceeds will be split between three local organizations the Fords were involved with.

"The betty ford center, Mrs. Ford's love and her legacy; also the Boys and Girls Clubs, President Ford was an Eagle Scout and he was very much involved with Boys and Girls Club; and they were very involved with St. Margaret's Church, which was their home church," Hart said.

The auction also offered a unique glimpse into the life of a president.

"We get to see another slice of life of who the Fords were, how they interacted with the Coachella Valley and we also get to see a glimpse of who some of their friends were," said Troy Mendez, a priest at St. Margaret's Church. 

One of those friends was Jacque Becker, who owned a restaurant in Cathedral City called The Broasted Chick. It was a favorite of the Fords. 

"When the Fords started eating my chicken they loved it so much, Betty used to come in several times a week," Becker said.

His friendship with the couple grew, and as a token, Jacque gave them a special picture that once hung in his restaurant.  He came to the auction Saturday to try and find it.  

President Ford even sent him a letter to thank him for the gift.  It read, "Dear Jack, I have received the magnificent print of the 13th hole of Seven Links Country Club where President Eisenhower made an ace. It will be proudly displayed in our home.  as you know we love your broasted chicken, which is a real delicacy."

The picture wasn't at the auction to bid on, but Jacque's memories of the Fords remain priceless.

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