2429Re: [prezveepsenator] NYT: Lady Bird Johnson, 94, Dies; Eased a Path to Power
- Jul 12, 2007I often think of her when I see Texas wildflowers, in
fact she set up a widlflower center here in Austin.
She has lived in the Austin area for pretty much her
whole life, except for her Washington days, and I
don't think I ever heard anyone say anything negative
about her. She was good for Texas and good for the
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> July 12, 2007=== message truncated ===
> Lady Bird Johnson, 94, Dies; Eased a Path to Power
> By ENID NEMY
> Lady Bird Johnson, the widow of President Lyndon B.
> Johnson, who was
> once described by her husband as "the brains and
> money of this family"
> and whose business skills cushioned his road to the
> White House, died
> yesterday afternoon at her home in Austin, Tex. She
> was 94.
> Mrs. Johnson was hospitalized for a week last month
> with a low-grade
> fever. She died of natural causes, surrounded by
> family, including her
> two daughters, and friends, said a family
> spokeswoman, Elizabeth
> Mrs. Johnson was a calm and steadying influence on
> her often moody and
> volatile husband as she quietly attended to the
> demands imposed by his
> career. Liz Carpenter, her press secretary during
> her years in the
> White House, once wrote that "if President Johnson
> was the long arm,
> Lady Bird Johnson was the gentle hand."
> She softened hurts, mediated quarrels and won over
> many political
> opponents. Johnson often said his political ascent
> would have been
> inconceivable without his wife's devotion and
> forbearance. Others
> shared that belief.
> After Johnson became the Democratic nominee for vice
> president in
> 1960, James Reston, the Washington columnist of The
> New York Times,
> said, "Lyndon could never have made it this far
> without the help of
> that woman."
> Mrs. Johnson was often compared to Eleanor
> Roosevelt, a first lady she
> greatly admired but did not emulate.
> "Mrs. Roosevelt was an instigator, an innovator,
> willing to air a
> cause without her husband's endorsement," Ms.
> Carpenter said. "Mrs.
> Johnson was an implementer and translator of her
> husband and his
> purpose a wife in capital letters."
> Mrs. Johnson had one major cause during the Johnson
> highway beautification, and her husband pushed
> Congress into passing
> legislation to further the program.
> Mrs. Johnson made many trips to explain her
> husband's programs like
> Head Start, the Job Corps and the War on Poverty.
> But, Ms. Carpenter
> said, she "never hesitated to admit that during the
> early years of
> their marriage, her husband expected coffee and
> newspapers in bed and
> his shoes shined and that she was happy to comply."
> Bonnie Angelo, a reporter who covered Mrs. Johnson
> for Time magazine,
> said, "She took a lot from him, but she always said,
> `Lyndon is larger
> than life,' and she took him with equanimity. She
> was the eye of the
> hurricane, the calm center of the maelstrom that was
> Lyndon Johnson."
> Mrs. Johnson developed her own public projects. She
> was an early
> supporter of the environment and, in championing
> beautification, worked to banish billboards and
> plant flowers and trees.
> The Lady Bird Johnson Park in Virginia, across the
> Potomac River from
> Washington, is an outgrowth of her First Lady's
> Committee for a More
> Beautiful Capital. She founded the $10 million
> National Wildflower
> Research Center in Austin, Tex., which opened in
> April 1995 and
> changed its name to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower
> Center in 1998.
> The center conducts research and provides
> information on plants,
> landscaping and conservation.
> Mrs. Johnson was known for her even temper, although
> she did not
> always consider it an asset. "I think it might be
> better to blow up
> sometimes," she once said.
> She was a stoic, rarely admitting pain, a trait her
> characterized as perhaps her only fault. She had
> four miscarriages but
> never indulged in self-pity.
> Mrs. Johnson financed her husband's first campaign
> for Congress in
> 1937 with a $10,000 loan against a small inheritance
> from her mother.
> She began taking an active role in politics in 1941,
> after he lost his
> first bid for the Senate and returned to the House.
> While he was on
> active duty in the Navy during World War II, Mrs.
> Johnson managed his
> legislative office. From that point she shared his
> public life,
> representing him, speaking for him and answering
> questions with
> unusual candor.
> When Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts,
> rather than his rival
> Johnson, was nominated for the presidency in 1960, a
> reporter asked if
> she was disappointed. "I'm relieved," she said, then
> confessed: "That isn't true. I'm terribly
> disappointed. Lyndon would
> have made a noble president."
> Although Mrs. Johnson was less than enthusiastic
> when her husband
> accepted the nomination for vice president, she
> campaigned tirelessly
> and accompanied the women of the Kennedy family on
> many of their
> appearances, particularly in the South.
> Once the election was won, she threw herself into
> the role of second
> lady, traveling to 33 countries in the 34 months of
> Johnson's vice
> presidency. She also made 47 trips in the United
> States in that time,
> attending social and political gatherings and
> promoting her husband's
> programs and her environmental interests.
> "My role," Mrs. Johnson said, "was to be an extra
> pair of eyes and
> ears for Lyndon."
> She also substituted for the first lady, Jacqueline
> Kennedy, on many
> Johnson openly expressed affection for his wife. He
> often planted a
> quick kiss on her forehead and held her hand when
> they were being
> driven somewhere. In public, Mrs. Johnson referred
> to her husband as
> Lyndon; when they were alone or with friends, he was
> Darling. She was
> always Bird.
> She was with her husband in the motorcade in Dallas
> on Nov. 22, 1963,
> when President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee
> Harvey Oswald. Later
> that afternoon, she was beside Johnson in the
> executive suite of Air
> Force One as he took the oath of office as 36th
> president. It was she
> who suggested to Mrs. Kennedy that she remain in the
> White House to
> wind up her affairs.
> "I wish to heaven I could serve Mrs. Kennedy's
> happiness," she said.
> "I can at least serve her convenience."
> Mrs. Johnson took up residence in the White House on
> Dec. 7, 1963,
> feeling, she said, "as if I am suddenly on stage for
> a part I never
> rehearsed." She converted a small corner room
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