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NYT: Lady Bird Johnson Receives Her Goodbye

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/us/15ladybird.html July 15, 2007 Lady Bird Johnson Receives Her Goodbye BY MARC SANTORA AUSTIN, July 14 — Past the images
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 15 9:04 PM
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/us/15ladybird.html
      July 15, 2007
      Lady Bird Johnson Receives Her Goodbye
      BY MARC SANTORA

      AUSTIN, July 14 — Past the images of escalating chaos in Vietnam, the
      assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the
      triumphant entry into space, at the top of a marble staircase at the
      Lyndon Baines Johnson Library here, thousands of mourners filed past
      the coffin of Lady Bird Johnson on Saturday.

      Mrs. Johnson died Wednesday at the age of 94. At her funeral Saturday
      afternoon at Riverbend Centre, representatives of first families
      stretching back almost a half-century came to pay respect.

      Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York sat next to her husband,
      former President Bill Clinton. To Mr. Clinton's right was the first
      lady, Laura Bush. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife,
      Rosalynn, sat on Mrs. Bush's other side.

      To Mrs. Carter's right sat another former first lady, Nancy Reagan,
      and in the next row was Barbara Bush, wife of former President George
      Bush.

      Mrs. Johnson would have been no stranger to the complicated tangle of
      ambition, achievement, respect and rivalry embodied by those gathered.

      Bill Moyers, who was Mr. Johnson's press secretary, recalled the
      tragedy that seemed to touch Mrs. Johnson's life at every turn,
      including the death of her mother when Lady Bird was only 5 years old
      and the event that resulted in her husband ascending to the Oval Office.

      Mrs. Johnson was with her husband, then vice president, two cars
      behind President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated in Dallas.

      "I have moved on stage to a part I never rehearsed," she told reporters.

      But as the speakers at her funeral recalled, she quickly found her place.

      "She seemed to grow calmer as the world around her grew more furious,"
      Mr. Moyers said. He recalled her dignity when confronted with attacks
      from opponents of the Johnson administration's advocacy of civil
      rights and her compassion for the Kennedy family after the
      assassinations of the president and, later, Robert F. Kennedy.

      When not confronted with the turmoil of the outside world, Mrs.
      Johnson had to deal with what Mr. Moyers called the "Vesuvius
      eruptions" of her husband and "negotiating the civil war within his
      nature."

      As her children and grandchildren testified at the funeral, she was
      one of few people who could accomplish that task.

      More than 12,000 people paid respect to Mrs. Johnson while she lay in
      repose. Lucinda Robb, her granddaughter, said the outpouring reflected
      the special place Mrs. Johnson held in the hearts of the people of
      this state. "It was the people of Texas coming to say goodbye to a
      lady," Ms. Robb said.
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