Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Gracious Lady Takes Her Leave From Us

Goodbye to Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007), former First Lady of the United States (1963-1969), and the widow of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Her tenure in the White House epitomized public service and Texas hospitality (much like Laura Bush, the incumbent First Lady). A savvy business woman who turned a $17,500 investment in a faltering Austin, Texas radio station into a multimillion dollar radio corporation, she never promoted her business achievements, always preferring to let the media spotlight shine on her public causes and her larger-than-life politician husband. Having qualified in her college education as a public school teacher, she shared a dedication to public education with the present First Lady, and served as honorary chairwoman of Project Head Start. Another beloved cause was the environment--she was perhaps best known for her campaign to replace roadside billboards and junkyards in Texas with trees and wildflowers. She raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify Washington. The $320 million Highway Beautification Bill, passed in 1965, was known as "The Lady Bird Bill," and she made speeches and lobbied Congress to win its passage. Lady Bird, we will miss you. Please campaign for wildflowers in heaven.

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