Claudia Taylor Johnson
December 12, 1912, in Karnack, Texas
July 11, 2007, in Austin, Texas
Lady Bird Johnson was 50 years old when President Kennedy was assassinated and her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson, became president. Lady Bird served as first lady throughout her husband’s tenure in office during the years 1963-1969.
Lady Bird was a staunch supporter of her husband’s political career and notably campaigned much more extensively than any previous first lady. Whether it was Johnson’s campaign for Congress or his bid for the executive office, Lady Bird was at his side. During Johnson’s bid for election in 1964, Lady Bird traveled solo throughout the south aboard a train dubbed The Lady Bird Special, stopping to speak to the public and promote her husband’s views.
During Lady Bird’s tenure as first lady, the transformation of the role of the president’s wife into a full-time professional job was complete. As first lady she enjoyed a staff of over 12 people to assist in all the duties expected of her. Her primary concern during these years centered on the environment and beautification, and she worked vigorously to ensure that the Highway Beautification Act was passed, which sought to beautify America’s highways by eliminating billboards and roadside junkyards. Her passion lay not only with the removal of eyesores, but also the planting of wildflowers, which she supported throughout her life.
Lady Bird said about the benefits of natural beauty, “Beauty in nature nourishes us and brings joy to the human spirit.”