Thelma Catherine “Pat” Nixon

Lived:March 16, 1912—June 22, 1993 (aged 81)
Career:First lady of the United States, 1969-1974
Education:B.S., University of Southern California

Thelma Catherine "Pat" Nixon was the wife of the 37th president of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon, and was the first lady from 1969 to 1974.

Mrs. Nixon was born on March 16, 1912, in Ely, Nevada. She was given the nickname "Pat" by her father, in reference to her birthdate and Irish ancestry. Her mother died in 1924 and her father in 1929, the year she graduated from high school. She first attended Fullerton Junior College and then enrolled in the University of Southern California in 1931. She paid her way through college by working a number of odd jobs. She graduated cum laude in 1937 with a Bachelor of Science degree in merchandising, and accepted a high school teaching position in Whittier, California, where she met Richard Nixon when they were cast together in a local theater production. They married in 1940.

Mrs. Nixon campaigned for her husband in his 1946 and 1948 campaigns for a seat in the U.S. House of Representative, as well as in his 1960 and 1968 presidential campaigns. During Mr. Nixon's two terms as vice president (1953 to 1961), Mrs. Nixon traveled with him, visiting 53 nations. During his presidential term, she was the most traveled first lady in U.S. history until Hillary Clinton, travelling to 39 of 50 states during the first term. She was the first First Lady to visit People's Republic of China, Africa and the Soviet Union and to enter a combat zone (South Vietnam). One of Mrs. Nixon's a major initiatives as First Lady was to promote volunteerism at the local level, and she supported a number of charitable causes. She also oversaw the addition of more than 600 paintings and furnishings to the White House collections, the largest number of acquisitions by any administration. Other White House renovations included the refurbishing of 11 rooms, the installation of an exterior lighting system and the installation of ramps for the handicapped. Mrs. Nixon spoke out in favor of women running for political office, encouraged her husband to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court and was the first First Lady to publicly support the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1972, she became the first Republican First Lady to address a national convention.

Mrs. Nixon appeared on the Gallup Organization's top-ten list of the most admired women fourteen times, from 1959 to 1962 and 1968 to 1979.

After the resignation of her husband from the presidency in 1974, Mrs. Nixon rarely appeared in public or granted media interviews. She suffered a stroke in 1976 and 1983, and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992. She died on June 22, 1993.