- Category : 1912-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/6 - Martyr / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (20,22,35)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 1
American First Lady, wife of the 36th U.S. President, Richard M. Nixon. She was the first lady from 1969 to August 1974 when Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. As First Lady, she was the most widely travelled in history with trips to 80 nations. In 1972 a French firm developed a red-black rose which they named the Pat Nixon Rose. Homemakers Forum selected her as the "Nation's Ideal Housewife" in 1957. Her goodwill and disposition earned so much admiration that the Gallup poll named her among the nation's most admired women in 1957, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971.
Born in a miner's shack, she had an impoverished childhood. Because she was born on the eve of St. Patrick's Day her Irish prospector dad, William Ryan, called her Pat. The nickname stuck so well that, disliking her birth name, Thelma, she later had her name changed to Patricia. A year after her birth, the family, including two older brothers and her half sister, Neva, moved to the small town of Artesia, California, where they scratched out a living on a truck farm without electricity or running water. Her dad taught himself farming from books on crop raising and learned to raise "the best cabbages for miles." The kids learned early not to expect much and to be stoical in hiding their feelings. Their father in particular did not encourage open demonstrations of emotion. Perhaps because he held himself so tightly in check, there were periodic explosions, probably brought on by too many whiskies with friends. When that happened, Will would pick fights with his wife Kate. During the summer of 1925 her mom, Kate, was ill and hospitalized with both a kidney affliction, Bright's disease as well as cancer of the liver. Kate died on 18 June 1925 and at the age of 13, Pat took over the cooking and cleaning along with farm chores. One important outcome of Kate's death was her disciplined refusal to look back. She graduated from high school on 7 June 1929 and took a job at Artesia's First National Bank to help pay for her father's hospitalization from tuberculosis. He died in May 1930.
When she was 18, Pat drove an elderly couple across country to New York City where she worked as a secretary, an X-ray technician, and store clerk all the while saving money to return to California. She returned in August 1934 and that fall enrolled at the University of Southern California where she specialized in merchandising. Although she received a scholarship, she supplemented her income by working in the cafeteria and library and as a model and movie extra. She graduated cum laude in 1937 but because of the Depression, abandoned plans to become a department store buyer and settled for a job teaching commercial subjects at Whittier High School for $190 a month. While trying out for a part in a play with a little theatre group in Whittier, she met a young lawyer named Richard Nixon, who had also just auditioned. Nixon fell in love with her the moment they met and told her he was going to marry her some day. After his persistent two-year courtship, he won her over and they married on 21 June 1940.
In October 1940 he was offered a job in the Office of Price Administration in Washington, DC and arrived there on 9 January 1941. During WW II her husband got a Navy commission and she followed him from post to post around the country working as a bank teller in Ottumwa, Iowa and finally taking a government job in San Francisco in 1943. Returning with political ambitions, the future President won a seat in Congress in 1946. Her husband served two terms as a member of the House of Representatives and when he won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1950, they moved into a comfortable home in Spring Valley, a Washington suburb. When her husband was nominated for vice president in 1952 she had hoped he might not accept but had resigned herself to her husband's political ambitions. Her fragile physical appearance belied an inner strength that radiated composure on the campaign trail. She subjugated her desire for privacy to the high profile life that her husband craved. The first big problem to test her much-admired serenity came during the 1952 vice presidential campaign when her husband's honesty was questioned. He had accepted an $18,000 fund for political expenses. In the now famous televised "Checkers speech" her support never wavered. They lost the election by a slim margin.
In June 1961 they moved to Beverly Hills, California. After a failed run for governor, they moved to New York in 1963. In 1968 her life changed when she became First Lady after her husband won the Presidential Election that year. He was re-elected in 1972. Her first term as the First Lady was marked by her restoring and redecorating the White House and promoting the cause of volunteerism. Thousands lined up waiting for her and the children; whether in Africa, California or Moscow, people were drawn to her. She radiated dignity, quiet strength and wholesome charm. She cried only twice in public - when her husband lost the 1960 bid for the presidency to John F. Kennedy, and when he made his farewell speech on 9 August 1974, after the Watergate scandal forced him to resign.
She married Richard M. Nixon on 21 June 1940 in a Quaker service at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California and set up housekeeping in an apartment over a garage. Patricia (Tricia) Nixon was born on 21 February 1946, just a few months before her dad won a seat in Congress; she married Ed Cox in 1971 at the White House. Tricia and Ed's son, Christopher Nixon Cox, was born in New York on 14 March 1979. A second daughter, Julie, was born on 5 July 1948 at 4:00 AM in Washington, DC. Julie married David Eisenhower, Dwight Eisenhower's grandson, on 22 December 1968. They have three kids, Jennie, born on 15 August 1978 in San Clemente, Alex in 1980 and Melanie in 1984.
A heavy smoker, though she was never seen smoking in public, she suffered a stroke that left her temporarily paralyzed while in San Clemente in early July 1976. She never regained the full use of her left hand. She also suffered from degenerative arthritis in her neck. She suffered a second stroke in 1983 and was hospitalized repeatedly for pneumonia and other lung infections. Her attitude toward these illnesses was the same as always: Ignore the discomfort and don't give in. Her last public appearance was in Yorba Linda, California on 19 July 1990 for the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace dedication. She had suffered from lung disease for several years but it was in February 1993, when hospitalized for emphysema, that cancer was discovered. She died of lung cancer on 22 June 1993 at 5:45 AM EDT in Park Ridge, New Jersey at 81.