Lady Bird Johnson Dies

By  | 

AUSTIN -- Services are planned this weekend for former first
lady Lady Bird Johnson, who died Wednesday at her home in Austin. She was 94.

Her husband, former President Lyndon B. Johnson, died in 1973.

A spokeswoman says Mrs. Johnson died of natural causes.

A private family eucharist will be celebated Friday at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. Starting Friday afternoon, the public is invited to pay its final respects as Mrs. Johnson lies in repose at the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin.

Visitation ends Saturday morning, then a private funeral will be held at Riverbend Centre in Austin.

Then on Sunday, the public is invited to line the route of a ceremonial cortege that will pass through Austin and carry Mrs. Johnson to her burial place in Stonewall, at the family cemetery. A private family service will be held at the graveside.

The ex-first lady championed conservation and worked tenaciously for the political career of her husband.

Lady Bird Johnson returned home late last month after a week at Seton Medical Center in Austin, where she'd been admitted for a low-grade fever.

A family spokeswoman says Lady Bird Johnson died at home about 4:18 p.m. Central Time. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Christian says Mrs. Johnson was surrounded by family and friends.

Governor Rick Perry has ordered flags flown at half-staff in memory of Mrs. Johnson, who died in Austin. Perry says Mrs. Johnson "embodied all that is beautiful and good about the great state of Texas."

President Bush says he and his wife, Laura, mourn the passing of someone he calls "our good friend, and a warm and gracious woman."

Bush says Mrs. Johnson shared her love of the environment and nature with the entire country. The president says the native wildflowers that bloom along roadsides are part of Mrs. Johnson's lasting legacy.

Bush also says Mrs. Johnson joined her husband in the struggle
for civil rights, inspiring millions of Americans. Bush also says Mrs. Johnson's commitment to early education gave many children a head start in life.

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy says Mrs. Johnson was a wonderful First Lady and one of the kindest and most caring and compassionate people he's ever met in politics.

He says Mrs. Johnson was a great friend to the Kennedy family, in both good times and bad.

The senator is the brother of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson then assumed the presidency, with Lady Bird at his side.

Former President George Bush of Houston says he and his wife, Barbara, loved Mrs. Johnson. Bush says Mrs. Johnson made the world beautiful in so many ways, and was beautiful to everyone who knew and loved her.

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, call Mrs. Johnson a "beloved First Lady and an American treasure."

The Clintons say Mrs. Johnson was a strong woman who inspired her two daughters and other young women to develop and speak their minds.

The Clintons say they were honored to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the White House with Mrs. Johnson.

Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn say they will remember Lady Bird's empathy for the disadvantaged. They say many people's lives are better today because she championed programs for children and the poor.

Lady Bird's Beautification
When you see a pretty vista along an interstate unmarred by a junkyard or a billboard, you can thank Lady Bird Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson pressed for cleanup efforts in the nation's capital and had a key role in lobbying for passage of the Highway Beautification Bill in 1965. It provided incentives to reduce the number of billboards and remove or shield other ugly sights along federal highways.

Johnson commissioned a china service for the White House that featured dozens of different wildflowers, including the official flowers of the 50 states.

On her 70th birthday, she and actress Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center in Austin. It was later renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Lady Bird's Life
Lady Bird Johnson, whose was born Claudia Alta Taylor, was the daughter of an East Texas rancher. She grew up in the Karnack area. She was born December 22nd of 1912.

Mrs. Johnson was soft-spoken but rarely lost her composure, despite heckling and grueling campaign schedules. She once appeared for 47 speeches in four days.

She spent 34 years in Washington, as her husband served as a congressional secretary, U-S representative, senator, vice president and then president.

Mrs. Johnson was with her vice-president husband in Dallas on November 22nd of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Johnsons were side by side when he took the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One.

The Johnsons returned to Texas after the presidency, and Lady Bird lived for more than 30 years in and near Austin.

As first lady, she was perhaps best known as the determined environmentalist who wanted roadside billboards and junkyards replaced with trees and wildflowers. Mrs. Johnson raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify Washington.

She turned a modest sum of money into a multi million dollar broadcast corporation in Austin that flourished under family ownership for more than a half-century.

Mrs. Johnson is survived by two daughters, Lynda Bird, born in 1944, and Luci Baines, born in 1947. Survivors also include seven grandchildren, a step-grandchild and several great-grandchildren.