Sad news greeted me when I arrived home yesterday evening, after a day on the road and beyond the reach of any good radio news ..... former First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson was dead. Mrs. Johnson died of natural causes at her Austin home Wednesday, at age 94.
A long life ..... and it would be hard to imagine a fuller life. Here is her White House biography. Needless to say, there are a lot of reports in the news about her passing ... I especially like this one by John Burnett of National Public Radio ...... a good report (you can read it or listen to it) as well as a number of photos, related stories about Lady Bird that aired on NPR over the years, and - best of all! - a number of audio recordings by the former First Lady.
Locally, Eric comments on her passing with this post at the Fire Ant Gazette. So does Wallace, with this post at Streams. I'm sure other will be showing up later today.
I have to admit, my first impressions of Lady Bird Johnson were based in large part on my impressions of her husband ..... and those weren't entirely favorable. I was a youngster back east, and felt as my parents did, that LBJ was some kind of rascal ..... which would have made his wife 'Mrs. Rascal.'
Time has shown me just how wrong first impressions can be. She proved to be a real lady, a class act, a staunch champion of the underprivileged, an advocate for the environment, a quiet woman of conviction and a good wife ..... even if her husband WAS some kind of rascal.
Three years ago, elder son and I were in Austin. He was part of a group of Midland school children being honored by the Texas Council on Environmental Quality for their campus gardening project. In our spare time, he and I drove out of the downtown to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center ...... established to introduce people to the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and other native plants, and to bring life to Mrs. Johnson's vision in its public gardens, its woodlands and sweeping meadows as well as in internationally influential research. We walked the grounds, visited with staff, and got our hands a little dirty in the process.
It's a wonderful visit, and I strongly recommend it to you all ....... as I strongly recommend saying 'Thanks' to the woman whose vision made it possible.
RELATED NOTE: Tuned in the ten o'clock news on television last night. I was surprised - and a little miffed! - that they did not lead with the story of Johnson's passing. IMHO, it was the day's top story - period.