Mamie Eisenhower's bangs and sparkling blue eyes were as much trademarks of an administration as the president's famous grin. Her outgoing manner, love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular first lady.
Born in 1896 in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Denver Colorado when she was seven. During winters the family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San Antonio, Texas. There, in 1915, Mamie met Dwight D. Eisenhower, a young second lieutenant. On Valentine's Day in 1916, he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement; they were married at the Doud home in Denver on July 1.
Mamie's new life followed the pattern of other army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, the Panama Canal Zone, France, and the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 Years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step up the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her. Their first son Doud Dwight or "Icky," born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second, John, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army. Later he became an author and served as ambassador to Belgium.
During World War II, while fame came to "Ike," Mamie lived in Washington. In 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. When her husband campaigned for president, Mamie cheerfully shared his travels. When he was inaugurated in 1953, the American people warmly welcomed her as first lady. Diplomacy - and air travel - in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments, and Mamie's evident enjoyment of her role endeared her to her guests and to the public.
When their Gettysburg dream home was finally completed in 1955, the Eisenhowers celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the White House staff. In 1961, they retired there for eight contented years together. After her husband's death in 1969, Mamie continued to live on the farm, devoting more of her time to her family and friends. Mamie Eisenhower died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.
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