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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson-Claudia Taylor-Johnson 1912-2007

Claudia Taylor Johnson, former First Lady of the United States was married to Lyndon Baines Johnson who was President of the United States from November 1963 until January 1969.

During her tenure as First Lady she began a capital beautification project (Society for a More Beautiful National Capital) to improve physical conditions in Washington, D.C., for residents and tourists alike. She inspired similar programs throughout the nation. Mrs. Johnson also promoted the Highway Beautification Act, which endeavored to beautify the highway system across the country through the restriction of billboards and by planting roadside areas with beautiful shrubs, flowers and trees. She was also an advocate of the Head Start program.

Lady Bird Johnson was the youngest child of a man who was a sharecropper's son who became a wealthy businessman and the owner of 15,000 acres of cotton and two general stores; her mother is described as "a tall, eccentric woman from an old and aristocratic Alabama family, liked to wear long white dresses and heavy veils (... and who) scandalized people for miles around by entertaining Negroes in her home."

At a time when women were hard pressed to have a career of their own, let alone a college education she earned a bachelor's degree in arts and in journalis from the University of Texas. Her goal was to become a reporter.

Early on in their marriage the Johnsons invested in radio stations later to become a communications conglomerate with ownership of television stations as well.

Lady Bird Johnson, as she is affectionately known, a name she was given at birth because the nurse said she was as "pretty as a lady bird", is survived by two daughters born to the Johnsons: Lynda Bird Johnson (1944) (Mrs. Charles S. Robb) resides in Virginia; and Luci Baines Johnson (1947) (married to Ian Turpin) who lives in Austin, Texas. Mrs. Johnson has seven grandchildren -- one boy and six girls -- and ten great-grandchildren. President Johnson died at his beloved LBJ Ranch on January 22, 1973.

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