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Marie (Mamie) Geneva Doud Eisenhower

(1896 - 1979)

First Lady from January 20, 1953 to January 20, 1961

Mamie Eisenhower

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Mamie Eisenhower

 

In office
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
Preceded by Bess Truman
Succeeded by Jacqueline Kennedy

Born November 14, 1896
Boone, Iowa, U.S.
Died November 1, 1979 (aged 82)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Spouse(s) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Children Doud Dwight "Icky" and John
Occupation First Lady of the United States
Signature

Mamie Geneva Doud-Eisenhower (November 14, 1896 – November 1, 1979) was the wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Contents

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 Early life

Birthplace of First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower, 709 (formerly 718) Carroll Street, Boone, Iowa

Born in Boone, Iowa, the daughter of John Sheldon Doud, a prosperous meat packer, and Elivera Mathilda Carlson-Doud, Mamie grew up in relative comfort in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Colorado Springs, Colorado,Denver, Colorado, and the Doud winter home in San Antonio, Texas. Her father retired at age 36 after making a fortune in the meatpacking industry. She and her three sisters grew up in large homes with several servants.[citation needed]

 Marriage and family

It was soon after completing her education at Miss Wolcott's finishing school that she met Dwight Eisenhower at San Antonio in October 1915. Introduced by Mrs. Lulu Harris, wife of a fellow officer at Fort Sam Houston, the two hit it off at once, as Eisenhower, officer of the day, invited Miss Doud to accompany him on his rounds. On St. Valentine's Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement.

The Doud House at 750 Lafayette Street in Denver, Colorado.

Lieutenant Dwight D. Eisenhower, aged 25, married Mamie Doud, aged 19, on July 1, 1916, at the home of the bride's parents in Denver, Colorado. Following the wedding, performed by Reverend Williamson of the Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, the newlyweds honeymooned a couple days at Eldorado Springs, Colorado a resort near Denver, and then visited the groom's parents in Abilene before settling into the lieutenant's crude living quarters at Fort Sam Houston.

The Eisenhowers had two children (only one lived to maturity):

  • Doud "Icky" Dwight Eisenhower (September 24, 1917 – January 2, 1921) died of scarlet fever.
  • John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (born August 3, 1922) – soldier, diplomat, author. Born in Denver, CO, he graduated from West Point in 1944 and earned a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1950. After retiring from a prosperous military career (1944–1963), he was appointed ambassador to Belgium (1969–1971) by Richard Nixon. He has written an account of the Battle of the Bulge, The Bitter Woods (1969), Strictly Personal (1974), and Allies: Pearl Harbor to D-Day (1982).

For years, Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone; duty in France, in the Philippines. Although accustomed to more creature comforts than those afforded at military posts, Mamie adjusted readily and joined her husband in moving 28 times before their retirement at the end of his term as president.[citation needed]

Mamie Eisenhower, with her husband, Dwight, on the steps of St. Mary's College, San Antonio, Texas, in 1916

During the Second World War, while promotion and fame came to "Ike," his wife lived in Washington, D.C. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm (now the Eisenhower National Historic Site) at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces—and hers as his hostess at a villa near Paris—delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955.[1]

 First Lady of the United States

Mamie Eisenhower in her inaugural gown, painted in 1953 by Thomas Stevens

They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House. Diplomacy—and air travel—in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments. As First Lady, her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes, some of them designed by Scaasi,[2] jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady. The gown she wore to her husband's inauguration is one of the most popular in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's collection of inaugural gowns.[3]

As First Lady, she was a gracious hostess but carefully guarded her privacy. A victim of Meniere's disease, an inner-ear disorder that affects equilibrium, Mrs. Eisenhower was uneasy on her feet, a spectacle that fed baseless rumors that she had a drinking problem.[4]

Mrs. Eisenhower was known as a penny pincher who clipped coupons for the White House staff. Her recipe for "Mamie's million dollar fudge" was reproduced by housewives all over the country after it was printed in many publications.[5]

As described in multiple biographies, including Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West, Mrs. Eisenhower was reportedly unhappy with the idea of John F. Kennedy coming into office following her husband's term. Despite new First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy having given birth to her son John Jr. viacaesarean section two weeks prior, Mamie refused to inform Jackie that there was a wheelchair available for her to use while showing Mrs. Kennedy the various sections of the White House. Seeing Mamie's displeasure during the tour, Jackie kept her composure while in Mrs. Eisenhower's presence, finally collapsing in private once the new First Lady returned home. When Mamie Eisenhower was later questioned as to why she would do such a thing, the former First Lady simply stated, "Because she never asked."[citation needed]

 Later life

Mamie Eisenhower Portrait, 04/27/1971

In 1961 Mrs. Eisenhower retired with the former president to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, their first permanent home. After her husband's death in 1969, she continued to live full time on the farm until she took an apartment in Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s.[6] She suffered a stroke on September 25, 1979 and was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital, where Ike had died a decade before. Mamie didn't leave the hospital and on October 31, announced to her granddaughter, Mary, that she would die the next day. Indeed, she died quietly in her sleep very early the morning of November 1,[7] just a few weeks shy of her 83rd birthday. She was buried next to the president and her first son at Place of Meditation on the grounds of the 

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