|First Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
|Preceded by||Lady Bird Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Betty Ford|
|Second Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
|Vice President||Richard Nixon|
|Preceded by||Jane Barkley|
|Succeeded by||Lady Bird Johnson|
Thelma Catherine Ryan
March 16, 1912
Ely, Nevada, U.S.
|Died||June 22, 1993 (aged 81)|
Park Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
|Resting place||Nixon Presidential Library|
Richard Nixon (m. 1940)
University of Southern California (BS)
Patricia Ryan Nixon (March 16, 1912 – June 22, 1993) was an American educator who had served as the First Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974 as the wife of President Richard Nixon. She also served as the Second Lady of the United States 1953 to 1961 when her husband was vice president.
Early life[change | change source]
Her birthplace was Ely, Nevada. Her birth name was Thelma Catherine Ryan. Her father’s name was William M. Ryan. Her mother’s name was Katherine "Kate" Halberstadt Ryan. Her ancestors from her father’s side were from Ireland. Her ancestors from her mother’s side were from Germany. Her mother was born in 1879 near Frankfurt, Germany.
Their family was not Catholic. But her father had got baptized as a Catholic, and perhaps returned to it shortly before her death. After her birth, her family moved near Los Angeles, California. They settled on a small truck farm in the city of Dairy Valley. Presently, the name of this place is Cerritos, California.
When Thelma grew and entered college, she legally changed her name to Patricia.
Pat's mother died in 1925. At that time, Pat was only 13 years old. She took over all the household duties for her father and two older brothers. In 1930, after months of illness, her father also died. At that time, Pat was only 18 years old.
During all these years, she worked on the family farm. She also worked in a local bank as a cleaner and bookkeeper.
Early career[change | change source]
In 1929, she graduated from Excelsior High School. For some time, she attended Fullerton Junior College. She worked in many jobs. Some of the jobs were the job of a driver, a X-ray technician, a pharmacy manager and a typist.
She had a will to continue her education. She studied at the University of Southern California. During her studies in the university, she did part-time jobs on campus. She also worked as a sales clerk in a fashionable department store and as an extra in the film industry. She can be seen in a brief walk-on in the 1935 movie Becky Sharp. Pat's efforts became successful. She graduated from the University of Southern California cum laude in 1937.
Patricia worked as a high school teacher in Whittier, California. Later, during World War II, she worked as a government economist.
Many persons have said about her: "Few, if any First Ladies worked as consistently before their marriage as did Pat Nixon." Once she had herself said: "I do or I die, but I never cancel out".
Marriage and family[change | change source]
In Whittier, Pat Ryan met a young lawyer named Richard Nixon. He had just graduated from Duke University. The two became known to each other at an acting group. They also acted together in a play. They became closer and married on 21st June 1940 at in Riverside, California.
Richard Nixon served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, in 1946 Richard Nixon entered politics. He successfully ran for the Congress of the United States.
In 1946, she gave birth to a daughter Tricia Nixon Cox, called Tricia. In 1948, she gave birth to her second baby, Julie Nixon Eisenhower. The Nixon couple gave a lot of time and all the affection to their daughters despite official and other engagements.
Her husband, Richard Nixon rose very fast during next six years. He became a member of the United States House of Representatives, then a member of the United States Senate. Thereafter, he became the Vice President of the United States while Dwight D. Eisenhower became the President of the United States.
Pat went abroad along with her husband when he was the Vice President. On a trip to Venezuela, some people threw stones at their car and spat on the car.
First Lady[change | change source]
The Nixon couple came to the White House in 1969. They started a tradition of inviting families to Sunday church services in the East Room of the White House. The President later discontinued these services due to concerns over the separation of Church and State. In short, separation of Church and the State says that religion and the government should remain separate from each other.
As the First Lady, she herself answered all her letters. Like Jacqueline Kennedy, she had an interest in adding artifacts to the White House. Her efforts brought about 600 paintings and furnishings into the White House Collection. Mrs. Nixon also arranged for a series of performances by artists at the White House. Among the guests were The Carpenters in 1972.
Pat Nixon went along with her husband to several other countries. Most important of such visits were to the People's Republic of China in 1972 and the summit meetings in the Soviet Union.
She went to Peru with materials to help the victims of an earthquake. She also went to Africa and South America as the Personal Representative of the president of the United States.
Pat Nixon had several other personal interests. She was an avid fan of soap operas, and 'Search for Tomorrow' was her favorite.
In August 1974, her husband resigned as the President of the United States. People say that while her husband was making his resignation speech, Mrs. Nixon was packing their things for moving out of the White House. They left the White House on 9th August 1974. They shifted to San Clemente, California to live.
Later life[change | change source]
Her husband resigned as the President of the United States. With this, her public and social life ended. She did not appear in public often. She was a lifelong heavy smoker in private. Her heath became very weak. In 1976, and again in 1982, she suffered a stroke. Richard Nixon said that she read a book about Watergate and became so upset that she had a stroke the next day. She also got mouth cancer and problems in her spinal cord. In December 1992, when she was in a hospital with emphysema, physicians found that she also had lung cancer.
She died of lung cancer at 5:45 am on June 22, 1993 at age 81. Her husband and daughters were by her side. Her husband died about ten months later. She and President Nixon lie buried at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. Her epitaph reads: "Even when people cannot speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart".
References[change | change source]
- White House biography Archived 2008-09-15 at the Wayback Machine
- First Lady Biography: Pat Nixon