You may not know much about former First Lady Claudia Johnson besides her doting nickname, Lady Bird. But, she lived a rather fascinating life, from a little girl growing up in Texas to a first lady on a mission to beautify the United States. Here’s some more info on ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson.
Claudia was born in Karnack, Texas, in 1912. She got her nickname Lady Bird as a little girl when someone remarked that she was as cute and pretty as a Lady Bird. The nickname stuck, and she was referred to as Lady Bird throughout the rest of her life.
Claudia’s father was a wealthy businessman, and her mother died when she was only five years old, so she was raised by her maternal aunt. As a child, she spent a lot of time outdoors and was a very good student.
She graduated high school when she was only 15 years old and got her degree in journalism from the University of Texas in 1934.
She met her husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson, that same year when he was visiting Austin, Texas, as a Congressional secretary. He proposed to Claudia seven weeks after they met, and they were married in November 1934.
When Claudia’s father passed away, she received a large inheritance. Some of it went towards investing in and acquiring several radio and television stations before she used it to fund Lyndon’s political campaigns.
When Lyndon was selected as former President John F. Kennedy’s running mate in 1960, Claudia worked tirelessly on their campaign. As second lady, she attended numerous events and traveled thousands of miles, often standing in for Jacqueline Kennedy.
In 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was tragically assassinated, and Lyndon took over the role, Claudia did what she could to ease the suffering of those grieving the former President’s loss as she transitioned into a first lady.
As first lady, Claudia took on and created many projects surrounding environmentalism and restoring the country’s natural beauty. She greatly influenced the passing of The Beautification Act of 1965, which called for limited outdoor advertising and the planting of flowers along the national highway system.