Born: March 16, 1912
Birthplace: Ely, Nevada
Years as First Lady: 1969-1974
Died: June 22, 1993
Pat Nixon's name was not Patricia, as thought by many. Her name was Thelma. When she was born, her Irish father said she was, "St. Patrick's babe in the morn." She called herself Pat as a result.
Pat Nixon was the only First Lady at the time to have a graduate degree. Because her family had a modest income, she held several jobs at a time to put herself through college. She had a full schedule of classes in school and then managed to work 40 hours each week, as well. She was certified to teach, and she worked as a teacher even after her marriage to Richard Nixon.
She and Nixon were performing in a community center play in California when they met. Pat was 28. She and Richard Nixon had two daughters, Tricia and Julie. Julie Nixon Eisenhower married Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower's grandson before Nixon was elected president. Trisha was married in the White House.
After Pat married Nixon, she continued to hold several jobs--bank clerk, economist, and clerk for the Red Cross. Nixon was elected to Congress in 1946, and in 1950, he was elected to the Senate. In only two more years, he was elected as Vice President of the U.S. Pat always helped in his campaigns by giving speeches and helping him with his own. When Nixon was Vice President, Pat traveled to over 53 countries and covered all of the United States. She worked tirelessly. When he was not elected to the presidency in 1960, the couple moved to New York City, where he practiced law.
Pat showed tremendous strength in her campaign efforts during the 1968 election. When Nixon was elected, she preferred being recognized as traditional, but she drove herself to answer much of her own mail herself. She encouraged people to volunteer in organizations established to help others. She started a program known as "Evenings at the White House" that supported the arts and provided a showcase for many types of artists. She traveled to many nations with her husband on good will missions, even traveling into the war zone in Viet Nam. She encouraged Nixon not to resign in 1974, but when he did, she was prepared to vacate the White House immediately.
The couple returned to California, and Pat had a stroke in 1976. She fought to make a full recovery, and in time she did. However, she rarely appeared in public or became involved in public events. Pat died in 1993, at the age of 81. She is buried in California.