Former Texas first lady Connally dies
Former Texas first lady Connally dies
By KELLEY SHANNON, Associated Press Writer 49 minutes
AUSTIN, Texas - Nellie Connally, the former Texas
first lady who was riding in President Kennedy's
limousine when he was assassinated, has died, a family
friend said Saturday. The 87-year-old was the last
living person who had been part of that fateful Dallas
Connally, the widow of former Gov. John Connally, died
late Friday of natural causes at an Austin assisted
living center, said Julian Read, who served as the
governor's press secretary in the 1960s.
As the limousine carrying the Connallys and the
Kennedys wound its way through the friendly crowd in
downtown Dallas, Nellie Connally turned to President
Kennedy, who was in a seat behind her, and said, "Mr.
President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."
Almost immediately, she heard the first of what she
later concluded were three gunshots in quick
succession. A wounded John Connally slumped after the
second shot, and, "I never looked back again. I was
just trying to take care of him," she said.
She later said the most enduring image of that day was
the bloodstained roses.
"It's the image of yellow roses and red roses and
blood all over the car ... all over us," she said in a
2003 interview with The Associated Press. "I'll never
forget it. ... It was so quick and so short, so
Read said Connally had been sitting at her desk
writing thank-you notes when she died.
"She has been extremely active and vital the past few
days and weeks," he said. "It's a shock to all of us."
In 2003, she published a photo-filled book "From
Love Field: Our Final Hours with President John F.
Kennedy" based on 22 pages of handwritten notes she
compiled about a week after the assassination and
rediscovered in 1996.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Connally "the epitome of
"Long before she was propelled into the national
spotlight from the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy, she was a Texas icon," Perry said in a
Connally, formerly Nellie Brill, met her husband at
the University of Texas in Austin, and they married on
Dec. 21, 1940.
John Connally managed several political campaigns for
fellow Texan Lyndon B. Johnson, including his 1964
presidential campaign. Connally was elected Texas
governor as a Democrat in 1962 and won re-election
twice, serving three two-year terms.
He was treasury secretary in the Nixon administration
and ran for president as a Republican in 1980, when
Ronald Reagan was elected. John Connally died in 1993.
Nellie Connally helped raise money for many charities.
In 1989, Richard Nixon, Barbara Walters and Donald
Trump turned out for a gala to honor her and raise
money for diabetes research.
"I've never known a woman with Nellie's courage,
compassion and character," Walters said. "For all her
ups and downs, I've never heard a self-pitying word
John and Nellie Connally suffered financial
difficulties after he left office. Private business
ventures after 1980 were less successful than John
Connally's career as a politician and dealmaking
Houston lawyer. An oil company in which he invested
got into trouble, and $200 million worth of real
estate projects went sour, and he ended up filing for
Nellie Connally served on the Board of Visitors of The
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center since
1984, and a fund in her name raised millions for
research and patient programs. The Houston hospital's
center for breast cancer also is named for Connally, a
survivor of the disease for more than 15 years.
About a year ago, Connally moved back to Austin after
decades in Houston.
Survivors include her daughter, Sharon Connally
Ammann, two sons, John B. Connally III and Mark
Connally, eight grandchildren and seven
Funeral services are pending. She is to be buried near
her late husband in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.