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Former Texas first lady Connally dies

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060903/ap_on_re_us/obit_connally Former Texas first lady Connally dies By KELLEY SHANNON, Associated Press Writer 49 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2006

      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
      from her."

      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.
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