Thelma Catherine Ryan Nixon - History

Thelma Catherine Ryan Nixon - History


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Thelma Catherine Patricia Ryan was the daughter of a humble Nevada copper miner. She was a reserved, dignified woman whose life experiences ranged from the depths of poverty to the heights of White House power. By the time she was a teenager, both of her parents had died. She finished high school and worked for two years to save enough money to put herself through college, graduating with honors from the University of Southern California. It was as a high school teacher that she met young lawyer, Richard Nixon. Both had joined the Whittier (California) theater group. For two years, Dick Nixon pursued the pretty teacher until she agreed to marry him in 1940.

During World War II, Nixon was on active duty in the Pacific while Pat worked for the Office of Price Administration in San Francisco. Shortly after the War's end, Nixon won a Congressional seat. He acquired the reputation of a ruthless and hard hitting politician. In 1952, he accepted the nomination as the Republican vice presidential candidate. During the Nixons' tenure as the nation's Second Couple, Pat Nixon assumed a relatively low profile. She raised her two daughters and was unfailingly supportive of her husband. His defeat in the 1960 presidential election was a crushing blow to Pat. When Nixon achieved the Presidency eight years later, she was clearly elated.

As First Lady, she quietly continued both the efforts of Jacqueline Kennedy's White House restoration project, and Lady Bird Johnson's beautification program. She was also responsible for making the Executive Mansion accessible to the disabled. Although she was often criticized for appearing cold and contained in public, Pat Nixon was known for her private warmth. She made a habit of greeting tourists visiting the White House and she signed nearly every piece of mail that went out on her behalf. Pat Nixon was not an activist First Lady in the style of Eleanor Roosevelt. But she strongly supported the cause of volunteerism, urging all Americans to work for the betterment of their communities. During President Nixon's first term, Pat visited thirty-nine of the fifty states. With her husband, she made historic trips to Africa, Communist China, and the U.S.S.R.

The Nixon White House came to be overshadowed by the Watergate scandal which would eventually lead to the President's resignation in 1974. Throughout it all, Pat Nixon never wavered in her support for the President. They lived quietly in retirement but all the public stresses had taken a private toll. She suffered a stroke in 1976 and her health was always fragile after that. When Patricia Nixon died in 1993, there was a public outpouring of sympathy for the woman who had devoted her life to her husband.


10 Things You May Not Know About Richard Nixon

1. Lee Harvey Oswald may have plotted to assassinate Nixon.
In the early morning of November 22, 1963, Richard Nixon rode through Dallas to the airport to fly home after attending a Pepsi-Cola board meeting. Nixon saw the preparations for the motorcade that hours later would carry John F. Kennedy, the man who defeated him for the presidency three years prior, on the streets of the city’s downtown. After Nixon landed in New York, he learned that Kennedy had been gunned down in that motorcade. In a further coincidence, the wife of Lee Harvey Oswald testified to the Warren Commission that in April 1963 the alleged assassin read a local newspaper report, tucked a pistol in his belt, and told her, “Nixon is coming. I want to go and have a look.” After locking him in a bathroom, Oswald’s wife convinced him to turn over his gun. The account was puzzling, since Nixon was not in Dallas in April 1963 and no newspaper mentioned any visit.

2. Milhous was his mother’s maiden name.
Nixon’s unusual middle name came from the maternal side of his family. When the ancestors of Nixon’s mother moved from Germany to England in the 1600s, they changed their last names from Milhausen to Milhous.

3. Community theater brought Richard and Pat Nixon together.
Nixon first encountered his future first lady as a leading lady in 1938 when both auditioned for the Whittier Community Players production of “The Dark Tower.” The amateur theater production led to a romance between Nixon and Thelma Catherine Ryan, nicknamed “Pat” by her father because she was born on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Foreshadowing their later lives, the couple wed in the presidential suite of the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, on June 21, 1940.

4. Nixon was a Quaker.
Nixon’s mother, Hannah, was a devout Quaker who instilled the faith in her husband and children. After the failure of his father’s lemon grove in Yorba Linda, California, Nixon moved with the family in 1922 to the nearby Quaker community of Whittier, which was named after one of America’s most eminent Quakers, the poet John Greenleaf Whittier. As a boy, Nixon went to Quaker meetings four times on Sundays and played the piano at church services. He enrolled at Whittier College, a Quaker institution, and attended mandatory chapel hours every day.

5. Nixon could play five musical instruments.
Nixon’s mother insisted he practice on the family’s upright piano every afternoon, and in the seventh grade he was sent 200 miles away to take lessons with his aunt, who had studied at the Indianapolis Conservatory of Music. Although he never learned to read music, Nixon could also play the saxophone, clarinet, accordion and violin. His musical talents turned ot to be political assets: Nixon’s 1963 appearance on “The Jack Paar Program,” during which he played a tune he wrote, helped rehabilitate his image after losing the California gubernatorial election the prior year. As president, he occasionally tickled the ivories, playing “Happy Birthday” for Duke Ellington at the White House and “My Wild Irish Rose” in honor of his wife at the Grand Ole Opry.

6. Nixon was an avid bowler.

One of Nixon’s favorite pastimes in the White House was bowling. He𠆝 even bowl a few frames dressed in his suit. In addition to using the alley in the adjacent Old Executive Office Building, Nixon had another one-lane alley built in the basement beneath the North Portico entrance to the White House.

7. Nixon may have had royal blood.
Through his maternal grandfather, Nixon reportedly descended from King Edward III of England. Whether or not Nixon had royal roots, he definitely had a royal moniker. The future president was named for Richard the Lionheart. Each of Nixon’s four brothers𠅎xcept for Francis, who bore the name of his father—were given names of English kings.

8. Nixon lost his bid for high school student-body president.
Although president of his eighth grade class, Nixon lost the election for student-body president when he was a high school senior in 1929. The victor, Robert Logue, is in rare company. The next man to defeat Nixon at the polls was Kennedy, 31 years later. In the interim Nixon was elected president of the Whittier College student body (on a platform of supporting on-campus dances) and the Duke University Law School bar association as well as U.S. representative, senator and vice president.

9. Nixon was a huge football fan.
Nixon played on the Whittier College football team and, while president, struck up a friendship with George Allen, coach of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. Allen invited the president to address the team in 1971, and legend has it that Allen used a play𠅊 wide-receiver reverse—that Nixon had suggested for a playoff game that year. The play was a disaster, a 13-yard loss that stymied a critical scoring drive and contributed to Washington’s loss.

10. Nixon ran a failed orange juice business.
In 1938, Nixon and several investors attempted to strike it rich making California orange juice, but Richard had no more luck than his father in the citrus business. The future president was not just the president of the Citra-Frost Company, which attempted to produce and sell frozen orange juice, but he even performed the menial work of cutting and squeezing oranges. Citra-Frost’s misguided attempt to freeze the juice itself, rather than the concentrate, doomed it to bankruptcy after just 18 months.

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Person:Thelma Ryan (1)

Born Thelma Catherine Ryan on March 16 in Ely, Nevada, "Pat" Nixon acquired her nickname within hours. Her father, William Ryan, called her his "St. Patrick's babe in the morn" when he came home from the mines before dawn.

Soon the family moved to California and settled on a small truck farm near Los Angeles--a life of hard work with few luxuries. Her mother, Kate Halberstadt Bender Ryan, died in 1925 at 13 Pat assumed all the household duties for her father and two older brothers. At 18, she lost her father after nursing him through months of illness. Left on her own and determined to continue her education, she worked her way through the University of Southern California. She held part-time jobs on campus,as a sales clerk in a fashionable department store, and as an extra part-time movies--and she graduated cum laude in 1937.

She accepted a position as a high-school teacher in Whittier and there she met Richard Nixon, who had come home from Duke University Law School to establish a practice. They became acquainted at a Little Theater group when they were cast in the same play, and were married on June 21,1940.

During World War II, she worked as a government economist while he served in the Navy. She campaigned at his side in 1946 when he entered politics, running successfully for Congress, and afterward. Within six years she saw him elected to the House, the Senate, and the Vice Presidency on the ticket with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Despite the demands of official life, the Nixons were devoted parents to their two daughters, Tricia (now Mrs. Edward Cox), and Julie (now Mrs. David Eisenhower).

A tireless campaigner when he ran unsuccessfully for President in 1960, she was at his side when he ran again in 1968--and won. She had once remarked succinctly, "It takes heart to be in political life."

Pat Nixon used her position as First Lady to encourage volunteer service--"the spirit of people helping people." She invited hundreds of families to non-denominational Sunday services in the East Room. She instituted a series of performances by artists in varied American traditions--from opera to bluegrass. Mrs. Nixon took quiet pride in adding 600 paintings and antiques to the White House Collection.

She had shared her husband's journeys abroad in his Vice Presidential years, and she continued the practice during his Presidency. Her travels included the historic visit to the People's Republic of China and the summit meetings the summit Soviet Union. Her first solo trip was a journey of compassion to take relief supplies to earthquake victims in Peru. Later she visited Africa and South America with the unique diplomatic standing of Personal Representative of the President. Always she was a charming envoy.

Mrs. Nixon met the troubled days of Watergate with dignity. "I love my husband," she said, "I believe in him, and I am proud of his accomplishments." She died at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey,on June 22, 1993. Her husband followed her in death ten months later. She and the former President are buried at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.

  1. ↑ 1.01.11.2Pat Nixon, in National First Ladies Library.
  2. "First Lady" Patricia Nixon: Her Life Began in Nevada, But Where?, in Nevada State Library and Archives. Pat Nixon, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
  3. ↑ 4.04.1 Thelma Catherine Ryan (Pat Nixon), in The Richard Nixon Foundation: “St. Patrick’s Babe in the Morning” article by Jimmy Byron
    2 April 2010.

Thelma Catherine Ryan was born in the late hours of March 16, 1912 in a miner’s shack in the small town of Ely, Nevada to William and Kate Ryan. At her mother’s insistence, the baby was named Thelma, though her father began calling her Babe, saying that she was “my St. Patrick’s Babe in the morning.” In the fall of 1931, she enrolled at Fullerton Junior College as Patricia Ryan when asked why she changed her name, she answered, “Patricia was my father’s favorite name… I was his ‘St. Patrick’s Babe in the morning.’”


First Lady of the United States

One of Mrs. Nixon’s first initiatives as First Lady was to announce a program encouraging volunteerism—she referred to it as “the spirit of people helping people.” Believing firmly in the power of grass roots organizations, she toured local towns and villages enlisting thousands of volunteers to carry out a wide variety of people programs at the community level. From the very beginning she was keenly aware of the need to support a program for the acquisition of artwork and objects for the White House. Pat Nixon took great pride in the fine antiques and significant paintings in the mansion and played a major role in adding more than 600 paintings and furnishings to the collection.

Seeking to make the presidency more accessible, she made the gardens and grounds of the White House available to the public in the summer and spring, hosting tours there for the first time in nearly a century. She opened the mansion during the holiday season in the evenings for “Candlelight Tours” so that working-class families could see the decorations. She arranged for the White House and the nearby monuments to be lighted at night so that they would be visible and identifiable by drivers and travelers flying into or out of the Capitol.

For the visually, hearing and physically impaired people visitors, she created special tours that gave full access to the rooms and history of the house. As hostess she initiated a series of performances by artists in varied American traditions from bluegrass to opera and invited hundreds of average American families to nondenominational Sunday services in the East Room. She would routinely go down from the family quarters to greet tourists and pose for photographs with people on the public tour.

Travels with her husband included the historic visit to the People’s Republic of China and the summit meeting in the Soviet Union. Her first solo trip was a journey of compassion to take relief supplies to earthquake victims in Peru. Later Mrs. Nixon visited Africa and South America with the unique diplomatic standing of personal representative of the president.

Mrs. Nixon met the troubled days of Watergate with dignity. “I love my husband,” she said, “I believe in him, and I am proud of his accomplishments.” In her retirement, she took great pleasure in her grandchildren and gardening. She died at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey, on June 22, 1993. Her husband followed her in death ten months later. She and the former president are buried at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.

Pat Nixon and former first lady Lady Bird Johnson unveil the White House acquisition of James Madison’s 1816 portrait by John Vanderlyn, May 28, 1970.


Patricia Ryan Nixon

As the wife of the President Richard Nixon, Thelma Catherine “Pat” Ryan Nixon was First Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974. She was an avid supporter of charitable causes and volunteerism.

Born Thelma Catherine Ryan on March 16 in Ely, Nevada, “Pat” Nixon acquired her nickname within hours. Her father, William Ryan, called her his “St. Patrick’s babe in the morn” when he came home from the mines before dawn.

Soon the family moved to California and settled on a small truck farm near Los Angeles–a life of hard work with few luxuries. Her mother, Kate Halberstadt Bender Ryan, died in 1925 at 13 Pat assumed all the household duties for her father and two older brothers. At 18, she lost her father after nursing him through months of illness. Left on her own and determined to continue her education, she worked her way through the University of Southern California. She held part-time jobs on campus, as a sales clerk in a fashionable department store, and as an extra in the movies–and she graduated cum laude in 1937.

She accepted a position as a high-school teacher in Whittier and there she met Richard Nixon, who had come home from Duke University Law School to establish a practice. They became acquainted at a Little Theater group when they were cast in the same play, and were married on June 21, 1940.

During World War II, she worked as a government economist while he served in the Navy. She campaigned at his side in 1946 when he entered politics, running successfully for Congress, and afterward. Within six years she saw him elected to the House, the Senate, and the Vice Presidency on the ticket with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Despite the demands of official life, the Nixons were devoted parents to their two daughters, Tricia (now Mrs. Edward Cox), and Julie (now Mrs. David Eisenhower).

A tireless campaigner when he ran unsuccessfully for President in 1960, she was at his side when he ran again in 1968–and won. She had once remarked succinctly, “It takes heart to be in political life.”

Pat Nixon used her position as First Lady to encourage volunteer service–“the spirit of people helping people.” She invited hundreds of families to nondenominational Sunday services in the East Room. She instituted a series of performances by artists in varied American traditions–from opera to bluegrass. Mrs. Nixon took quiet pride in adding 600 paintings and antiques to the White House Collection.

She had shared her husband’s journeys abroad in his Vice Presidential years, and she continued the practice during his Presidency. Her travels included the historic visit to the People’s Republic of China and the summit meetings in the Soviet Union. Her first solo trip was a journey of compassion to take relief supplies to earthquake victims in Peru. Later she visited Africa and South America with the unique diplomatic standing of Personal Representative of the President. Always she was a charming envoy.

Mrs. Nixon met the troubled days of Watergate with dignity. “I love my husband,” she said, “I believe in him, and I am proud of his accomplishments.” She died at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey, on June 22, 1993. Her husband followed her in death ten months later. She and the former President are buried at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.


Pat Nixon

After graduating from Excelsior High School in 1929, she attended Fullerton College. She paid for her schooling by working odd jobs, together with as a driver, a pharmacy supervisor, a phone operator, and a typist. [1] She additionally earned cash sweeping the flooring of a neighborhood financial institution, [1] and from 1930 till 1931, she lived in New York City, working as a secretary and in addition as a radiographer. [6]

It has been mentioned that few, if any, First Ladies labored as persistently earlier than marrying as did Pat Nixon. [1] As she advised the author Gloria Steinem through the 1968 presidential marketing campaign, “I by no means had time to consider issues like that—who I needed to be, or who I admired, or to have concepts. I by no means had time to dream about being anybody else. I needed to work.” [7]

She labored on the household farm and in addition at a neighborhood financial institution as a janitor and bookkeeper. Her mom died of most cancers in 1924. [6] Pat, who was solely 12, assumed all of the family duties for her father (who died himself of silicosis 5 years later) and her two older brothers, William Jr. (1910–1997) and Thomas (1911–1992). She additionally had a half-sister, Neva Bender (1909–1981), and a half-brother, Matthew Bender (1907–1973), from her mom’s first marriage [1] her mom’s first husband had died throughout a flash flood in South Dakota. [1]

After her start, the Ryan household moved to California, and in 1914 settled on a small truck farm in Artesia (present-day Cerritos). [4] Thelma Ryan’s highschool yearbook web page provides her nickname as “Buddy” and her ambition to run a boarding home. [5]

Thelma Catherine Ryan was born in 1912 within the small mining city of Ely, Nevada. [1] Her father, William M. Ryan Sr., was a sailor, gold miner, and truck farmer of Irish ancestry her mom, Katherine Halberstadt, was a German immigrant. [1] The nickname “Pat” was given to her by her father, due to her start on the day earlier than Saint Patrick’s Day and her Irish ancestry. [1] Upon enrolling in faculty in 1931, she stopped utilizing the identify Thelma, changing it with Pat and sometimes utilizing the identify Patricia. The identify change was not a authorized motion, nevertheless merely one in all desire. [2] [3]

Her public appearances turned more and more uncommon later in life. She and her husband settled in San Clemente, California, and later moved to New Jersey. She suffered two strokes, one in 1976 and one other in 1983, and was recognized with lung most cancers in 1992. She died in 1993, aged 81.

As First Lady, Pat Nixon promoted plenty of charitable causes, together with volunteerism. She oversaw the gathering of greater than 600 items of historic artwork and furnishings for the White House, an acquisition bigger than that of some other administration. She was probably the most traveled First Lady in U.S. historical past, a file unsurpassed till twenty-five years later. She accompanied the President as the primary First Lady to go to China and the Soviet Union, and was the primary president’s spouse to be formally designated a consultant of the United States on her solo journeys to Africa and South America, which gained her recognition as “Madame Ambassador” she was additionally the primary First Lady to enter a fight zone. Her tenure as First Lady ended when, after being re-elected in a landslide victory in 1972, President Nixon resigned two years later amid the Watergate scandal.

Born in Ely, Nevada, she grew up along with her two brothers in what’s now Cerritos, California, graduating from highschool in 1929. She attended Fullerton Junior College and later the University of Southern California. She paid for her education by working a number of jobs, together with pharmacy supervisor, typist, radiographer, and retail clerk. In 1940, she married lawyer Richard Nixon they usually had two daughters, Tricia and Julie. Dubbed the “Nixon workforce,” Richard and Pat Nixon campaigned collectively in his profitable congressional campaigns of 1946 and 1948. Richard Nixon was elected vp in 1952 alongside General Dwight D. Eisenhower, whereupon Pat turned Second Lady. Pat Nixon did a lot so as to add substance to the position of the vp’s spouse, insisting on visiting colleges, orphanages, hospitals, and village markets as she undertook many missions of goodwill internationally.

Thelma CatherinePatNixon (née Ryan March 16, 1912 – June 22, 1993), additionally generally often known as Patricia Nixon, was an American educator and the spouse of Richard Nixon, the thirty seventh President of the United States. During her greater than 30 years in public life, she served as each the Second (1953–1961) and First Lady of the United States (1969–1974).


Thelma Catherine Nixon

Thelma Catherine "Pat" Nixon (nພ Ryan March 16, 1912 – June 22, 1993) was the wife of Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, and First Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974.

Born in Ely, Nevada, she grew up with her two brothers in what is now Cerritos, California, graduating from high school in 1929. She attended Fullerton Junior College and later the University of Southern California. She paid for her schooling by working multiple jobs, including pharmacy manager, typist, radiographer, and retail clerk. In 1940, she married lawyer Richard Nixon and they had two daughters. Nixon campaigned for her husband in his successful congressional campaigns of 1946 and 1948. Richard Nixon was elected Vice President in the Eisenhower administration, whereupon Pat undertook many missions of goodwill with her husband and gained favorable media coverage. She assisted her husband in both his unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign and later in his successful 1968 presidential campaign.

As First Lady, Pat Nixon promoted a number of charitable causes, including volunteerism. She oversaw the collection of more than 600 pieces of historic art and furnishings for the White House, an acquisition larger than that of any other administration. She was the most traveled First Lady in U.S. history, a record unsurpassed until twenty-five years later. She accompanied the President as the first First Lady to visit China and the Soviet Union, and her solo trips to Africa and South America gained her recognition as "Madame Ambassador" she was also the first First Lady to enter a combat zone. These trips gained her favorable reception in the media and the host countries. Her tenure ended when, after being re-elected in a landslide victory in 1972, President Nixon resigned two years later amid the Watergate scandal.

Her public appearances became increasingly rare later in life. She and her husband returned to California, and later moved to New Jersey. She suffered two strokes, one in 1976 and another in 1983, then was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992. She died in 1993, aged 81.


Thelma Catherine Ryan Nixon - History

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Thelma Catherine " Pat" Ryan Nixon, 1912-1993. First Lady of the United States, 1969-1974. Autograph Letter Signed, Pat, one page, octavo, on engraved stationery of La Casa Pacifica, [San Clemente, California], [no date]. With accompanying envelope addressed by Mrs. Nixon.

Mrs. Nixon thanks long-time Nixon friend and supporter William W. Stover for a Christmas tree decoration. In full: “We are enormously grateful for your thoughts of us at Christmas. The exquisite tree ornament is bringing us joy this year — and promises to repeat in the years ahead! / With appreciation for your thoughtfulness and Happy New Year wishes, / Devotedly, / Pat ”

Mrs. Nixon is rare in autograph letters signed. In The First Ladies of the United States: An Historical Look at Each and Their Autograph Materials 1789-1989, Walter Ostromecki, Jr., noted that she " is extremely scarce in holograph material" and that he knew of only " a very few holograph letters."

This beautiful letter has never been on the market before. Mrs. Nixon has written it in blue fountain pen. It is in very fine condition and would be extra fine were it not for the one normal horizontal fold. The accompanying envelope is addressed in Mrs. Nixon ’ s hand but was never mailed. It is in very fine condition as well.


America’s First Ladies, #37 — Thelma “Pat” Ryan Nixon

Thelma Ryan was called “Pat” from an early age, and eventually became Pat Nixon, the thirty-seventh First Lady of the United States. A farmer’s daughter, she worked her whole life until her first child was born, doing whatever she could to get by. Her husband, Richard Nixon, fell in love with her on their very first date. Here is her amazing and fascinating story.

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Our thirty-seventh First Lady, Thelma Catherine Ryan Nixon, was born on March 16, 1912, in Ely, Nevada, a small, rural mining town. Her parents were William Ryan and Katherine Halberstadt. William was a sailor, gold miner, and truck farmer, with Irish ancestry, while Katherine was a homemaker and a German immigrant. Thelma was given the nickname “Pat” by her father at an early age because her birthday was the day before St. Patrick’s Day, and it celebrated her Irish heritage. When Thelma enrolled in college, she began using “Pat” as her name exclusively, even sometimes extending it out to “Patricia.” However, her name was never legally changed. It was simply the name she preferred to use.

Shortly after Pat was born, her family moved to California, where her father took up truck farming (an old-fashioned term for vegetable farming). She worked at the farm, and also at a local bank as both a janitor and a bookkeeper. Her mother died when Pat was 12, upon which time Pat took over all of the household responsibilities. Her father died when Pat was 17. Pat had two older brothers, as well as an older half-brother and older half-sister from her mother’s first marriage to a man who died in a flash flood in South Dakota.

It has often been said of Pat that she worked more prior to marriage than any other First Lady. She said once, in an interview with Gloria Steinem, that she never had time to think about who she wanted to be or who she admired, or to even dream about being anyone else, because she had to work from such a young age.

She graduated high school in 1929 and enrolled at Fullerton Junior College, where she paid her tuition by working whatever jobs she could find, such as a driver, a pharmacy manager, a telephone operator, and a typist. She was, in her own words, “determined to make something out of myself,” and enrolled at the University of Southern California upon graduating junior college. She majored in merchandising. Again, she worked her way through, having such jobs as part-time ones on campus, a sales clerk in a department store, teaching typing and shorthand at a local high school, and working as an extra and bit player in the film industry.

Pat was an excellent and devoted student and graduated cum laude from USC with her Bachelor of Science degree in Merchandising. She also had a certificate to teach high school, which was the university’s equivalent of a Master’s degree in those times. Upon graduating, she became a high school teacher in Whittier, California.

It was while teaching in Whittier that Pat met Richard Nixon, who was at the time a young lawyer, recently graduated from law school. They met at a community theater group where they were both cast in the play, The Dark Tower. Richard asked Pat to marry him on their first date. Pat thought he was crazy. But, Richard was determined to win her over, and he courted her consistently for two years, even driving her to and from her dates with other men. He eventually won her over, and they got married on June 21, 1940, at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.

They had an apartment together in Whittier for a while but moved to Washington, D.C. when the US became involved in WWII so that Richard could take a job as a lawyer for the Office of Price Administration. At the same time, Pat got work as a secretary for the Red Cross, and also as a price analyst for the Office of Price Administration. When Richard joined the Navy and was sent to San Francisco, Pat continued to work for the Office of Price Administration.

Richard returned from the war and made a successful campaign for the US House of Representatives in 1946. Pat gave birth to their daughter, Patricia, that same year, and their second daughter, Julie, two years later. Over the next six years, Richard went from the House to the Senate, to President Eisenhower’s Vice-Presidential candidate.

When Richard eventually became President, Pat believed the First Lady should set an example of high virtue and dignity for the public. She did extensive diplomatic traveling around the world, and visited the poor, the ill, and the orphaned, in what she called her “personal diplomacy.”

She was also upset by the public notion that access to the President and First Lady was only for the rich and elite. So, she regularly came downstairs to personally greet White House tour groups, where she shook hands, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the visitors. She also invited many little-known groups to the White House to give them recognition.

She was the 1 st First Lady to address a national political convention, doing so at the 1972 Republican National Convention. The wives of future candidates copied her in this.

As for Watergate, Pat did not know about the secret tape recordings Richard made. Her daughter Julie later said Pat would have had the tapes destroyed had she known about them. When she did eventually learn about the tapes, it was after they became public knowledge. She believed in Richard’s innocence and urged him to not resign. She wanted him to fight the impeachment proceedings that were being brought up against him. She wondered aloud to a friend why all of this was happening, after all her husband had done for the country.

When Richard told her he would resign, her response was, “But, why?” On August 7, 1974, Pat, Richard, and their daughters sat together in the solarium of the White House for their last dinner as First Family. When Richard entered the room, Pat went to him, hugged and kissed him, and told him how proud she and their daughters were of him.

After leaving the White House, she and Richard moved to San Clemente, California, where they had a home they called La Casa Pacifica. She didn’t go out in public much and only granted the occasional interview. In December of 1987, Richard and Pat watched Donald Trump appear on The Phil Donahue Show, and Richard wrote to Trump that Pat was an expert on politics, and said she believed Trump would win whenever he eventually decided to run for president, as she believed he one day would. She was right.

Pat kept a low profile for the rest of her life and died at her Park Ridge, New Jersey house on June 22, 1993, at the age of 81, the day after her fifty-third wedding anniversary to Richard. Richard and her daughters were with her at the time, and Richard joined her ten months later. She was buried on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. The name on her tombstone is “Patricia Ryan Nixon,” the name she always went by. The inscription reads:

Even when people can’t speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart.”


Obituary: Pat Nixon

Thelma Catherine ('Patricia') Ryan: born Ely, Nevada 16 March 1912 married 1940 Richard Nixon (two daughters) died Park Ridge, New Jersey 22 June 1993.

PAT NIXON was the wife of the 37th President of the United States and the only one ever to resign his office. She was widely seen as an old-fashioned wife and mother, perhaps the last First Lady to adopt so low a public and political profile. She was however a woman of exceptional courage and strength who exercised a great private influence on her husband. She helped him to survive repeated political disasters which might have destroyed the will to go on of any man with a less determined partner in life.

She was born Thelma Catherine Ryan in a miner's hut in Ely, Nevada, in 1912. Her father, Will Ryan, was an unsuccessful Irish prospector, her mother an immigrant from Germany. When she was 13 she nursed her mother while she was dying of cancer, and only two years later, still a schoolgirl, she nursed her father through terminal tuberculosis. He had nicknamed her 'Pat', it is said, because she was born an hour before St Patrick's Day. After his death she changed her name to Patricia.

Her life until she met Richard Nixon was a paradigm of hard work, self-reliance, and self-improvement. She herself recognised, however, that it cost her a good deal emotionally and perhaps explained her almost uncanny self-discipline. In her memoirs, Mrs Nixon's daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower quoted her mother as saying, 'I detest scenes. And so to avoid scenes or unhappiness I suppose I accommodated to others.'

She first enrolled in a California junior college, then moved east to stay with her aunts, one of whom, a 77- year-old nun, was in charge of the X-ray unit in a Bronx hospital. Pat Ryan took a course which qualified her to work as an X-ray technician, then worked with TB patients. After two years she had saved enough money to return to California and finish her education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In order to graduate, she had to work, as a bank clerk, a cosmetics demonstrator in a department store and as an extra at the Hollywood studios.

She met her future husband when they both auditioned for an amateur production of the Alexander Woollcott / /George S. Kaufman play The Dark Tower in Whittier, where he was working as a lawyer and she was teaching in a high school. He is said to have told her that first night, 'I am going to marry you some day,' and he always maintained it was love at first sight on his side. She was however unimpressed for a long time. Indeed Richard Nixon's later, almost legendary, determination and his willingness to put up with disappointments and even snubs were never more conspicuous than in his courtship.

In the end his wooing, a blend of humility and determination, overcame her misgivings and they were married in 1940, a little over two years after they first met. Although her husband was soon to disappear into the navy, the marriage was a success from the start. On his demobilisation Pat Nixon worked hard for Nixon's election to Congress, even though she was by then expecting her first daughter, Tricia. 'By far the hardest campaign worker was the candidate's wife. When he was elected and they moved to Washington, she brought the two children up and did what she could socially to help his career without help. Until after his defeats for the presidency in 1960 and for governor of California in 1962 the Nixons were not rich, a fact Nixon deftly turned to his advantage when, accused of benefiting from a dubious poliical 'slush fund' in 1956, he said, 'Pat doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable cloth coat. And I always tell her she'd look good in anything.' It was Mrs Nixon who, on that occasion as on many others, put the gumption into her husband to go on television and fight the charges levelled against him.

She had been thrilled when he was chosen by President Eisenhower as his vice-presidential candidate, but she soon became disillusioned by the life of Vice-President's wife, answering 200 letters a week herself, and bringing up two daughters on her own because her husband was too busy politically to help. At least once she tried to persuade him to give up politics and earn some money by practising as a lawyer.

After his two defeats in 1960 and 1962, that is what he did. The Nixons moved to New York, which she liked. When he ran for the presidency in 1968, she did her duty at his side, though one reporter said at the time he could not help wondering 'whether Pat Nixon secretly wishes that it had all happened to somebody else'. Another, less sympathetically, admired her performance as 'Madison Avenue's custom-tailored glossy five-colour concept of the successful all-American wife and mother'.

In the White House, Pat Nixon found the media's unrelenting coverage of her husband and her family hard to bear even before the Watergate crisis. When it came, she stood by him loyally, convinced that he was the victim of an international plot involving double agents and the CIA. Only at the very end did she break down. Her daughter records that she when she realised that Nixon had no alternative but to resign, she cried briefly, then stayed up all night packing the family's bags.

In 1976, reportedly after reading Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's harsh account of The Final Days, which said, inaccurately, that she was a heavy drinker, she had a stroke. She displayed her habitual courage in the rehabilitation process and by 1979 was urging Nixon to return to the East both so that he could more effectively repair his reputation and because she was anxious to see more of her daughters and her grandchildren.

After her stroke and the return to the East, first to a large house in Saddle River, New Jersey, later as they reached their eighties to a smaller townhouse, friends reported that she mellowed. She suffered from emphysema, which in recent years prevented her leaving the house. Her relationship with her husband, which for a time had been somewhat formal, was once again patient, good-humoured and supportive, and it was her pleasure to spend time with her grandchildren and their parents.


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