|Title||Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan Nixon|
|Collection||First Lady Dolls|
Thelma Catherine "Pat" Nixon (1912-1993)
Wife of Richard Milhous Nixon - served as First Lady from 1969-1974.
Pat Ryan was five feet five and a half inches tall; she had sandy blonde hair and hazel eyes. Pat lost both her parents by the time she was seventeen years old. She finished high school and went to the University of Southern California by working as a sales clerk and movie "extra." She graduated 'cum laude'. Pat Nixon was the first First Lady to earn a graduate degree.
She joined an amateur theater group where she met Richard Nixon, an ambitious lawyer. They were married on June 21, 1940; she was 29 years old.
Pat Ryan Nixon faced many challenges when she became First Lady. This was a time when the role of women in American society was being dramatically redifined in both perception and reality. Pat became the first incumbent First Lady to endorse the Equal Rights Amendment. She was the first to disclose publicly her pro-choice view on abortion.
She became the first First Lady to appear publicly in pants, reflecting the radical change in women's attire that critics derided as masculine. Still, Pat Nixon valued her identity as a middle-class homemaker, supportive wife and devoted mother.
She carried her theme of honoring the 'common man' with several efforts to make the White House more accessible to those with special needs. She hosted the first annual Halloween party in the mansion for groups of local, disadvantaged children.
Pat made all the arrangements to have the White House lit by floodlights at night as Washington's other monuments were - so those driving by on Pennsylvania Avenue or flying into or out of the nearby National Airport could glimpse it clearly.
Mrs. Nixon was the first incumbent First Lady to toss out a baseball for a major league team, being at game two of the 1971 World Series. She made the ceremonial "first pitch" at Baltimore Memorial Stadium.
The 'Watergate' scandal proved to be very emotionally and physically taxing on the President and First Lady. She first learned about the criminal actions of the scandal, that were unraveling, from the media. The President resigned on August 9, 1974 and Pat began packing their possessions and making the immediate arrangements for their return to California.
The immediate years follwoing Nixon's resignation and their return to Sal Clemente, California were difficult. Pat helped to maintain the former president through a series of traumas, ranging from legal wrangling resulting from his resignation to physical disability.
In July 1976, Pat Nixon suffered a stroke, resulting in the temporary loss of speech and use of her left side. Through a rigorous physical therapy routine, she was able to rehabilitate full use of her motor and speaking skills. Her strength would remain uncertain.
Pat very much enjoyed the years following 1980 when she and the former president relocated to the East Coast where they were able to spend time with their children and grandchildren.
Pat Ryan Nixon died on June 22, 1993 at the age of 81.
The former president, Richard M. Nixon died the next spring on April 23, 1994.
|Event||Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project|
|Creator||Park, Phyllis Juhlin|
|Costume||Costume by Beatrice Oberhansley Anderson|
|Given||Given by the Lady Lions|
|Source||Uintah County Library|