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  Lady Bird Johnson

by John T. Marck

First Lady: 1963 to 1969

Wife of Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)

Born: December 22, 1912

Claudia (Lady Bird) Alta Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Minnie Patillo Taylor. Her nurse at an early age nicknamed her "Lady Bird," after a tiny red and black garden beetle, and from then on refused to use her christened name. At the age of six, Lady Bird lost her mother and was then raised by her Aunt, Effie Patillo. Lady Bird, being quite intelligent, learned to take care of herself at an early age. At fourteen she owned her own car, and drove fourteen miles to school each day. At the age of twenty-one she had graduated from the University of Texas, in Austin. It was here that she met Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson was working as secretary to a Texas Congressman, and had returned to Washington. From Washington he constantly wrote and telephoned Lady Bird. One day, unexpected, he arrived at the Taylor home and convinced Lady Bird to marry him. They then drove to Austin, obtained a license and were married on November 17, 1934. They had two children; Lynda Bird, born in 1944 and Luci Baines, born in 1947. Lady Bird would spend time campaigning for her husband for U. S. Senate. When Johnson moved up to Vice President, he bought a mansion called "The Elms" in Spring Valley, Texas. Lady Bird would help out Jackie Kennedy in supplementing the White House entertaining at "The Elms."

Of the First Ladies who moved into the White House following an assassination, Lady Bird was the first to have so closely witnessed it. In Dallas, after the assassination she had the impossible job of assisting Jackie in her state of shock, and her own grief and fears.

Lady Bird's years in the White House were not very glorious. However, it has been said that she was the first President's wife to have been equally competent in politics and business. When Johnson decided not to run for a second term, she agreed, wanting to retire and live quietly. Lyndon and Lady Bird retired to their L.B.J. Ranch in Texas, where they lived quietly. Lyndon died in 1973, and Lady Bird remains there today.

Copyright 1990-2022 by  John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the United States by John T. Marck.