AKA Thelma Catherine Ryan
Birthplace: Ely, NV
Location of death: Park Ridge, NJ
Cause of death: Cancer - Lung
Remains: Buried, Richard Nixon Library, Yorba Linda, CA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: First Lady
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Wife of US President Richard M. Nixon
With excellent grades in school, Pat Ryan was promoted directly from First Grade to Third Grade. She was rushed into adulthood, assuming most of the household responsibilities at 13, after her mother died, though she was the youngest child. Her father soon became seriously ill, and died five years later. Growing up on a family farm, she tended barley, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, corn, peppers, and tomatoes, and in addition to her chores, she worked as a janitor and office clerical help in her high school years.
She paid her college tuition by working five jobs, averaging forty hours a week even while school was in session. She briefly worked as an actress -- you can glimpse her as an extra in 1935's Becky Sharp starring Miriam Hopkins and The Great Ziegfeld with William Powell. She was working as an actress at an amateur playhouse in Whittier, California, when she met her future husband, Richard M. Nixon, who was also auditioning as an actor. She worked for several years as a business and bookkeeping teacher at Whittier High School, and in the mid-1940s she worked at the government's Office of Price Administration. Her husband first ran for office in 1946, and though she said she despised politics, for many years she played a public role as the wife of, first, a Congressman, then a Senator and Vice President.
Her husband was elected President in 1968, and as First Lady Pat Nixon called for Americans to do volunteer work for hospitals, civic organizations, day care centers, nursing homes, and children's groups. She became the first First Lady to visit a combat zone when she went to Vietnam, and she hosted non-denominational Christian services in the East Room of the White House, until concerns were voiced about the separation of church and state, and the Sunday meetings ended. She also welcomed White House visits from activists who had not previously been extended such invitations, including groups representing the blind, deaf, and otherwise handicapped, and she publicly endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment and a woman's right to choose abortion. During her husband's second term, as scandal swirled around the White House, she said, "I love my husband. I believe in him, and I am proud of his accomplishments." She died in their New Jersey home in 1993, and he died ten months later.
She acquired the nickname "Pat" at an early age (a reference to her birth on the day before St Patrick's Day). She signed her checks "Patricia Nixon", and that was the name engraved on her tombstone, but "Patricia" was never part of her legal name. Her father was Catholic, her mother Christian Scientist, and her husband was a Quaker. She attended Quaker services with him, but never declared her affiliation with any denomination. The Nixons' daughter Julie married the grandson of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower; they met in the White House as toddlers, while Richard Nixon was Vice President under Eisenhower.
Father: William M. Ryan (farmer, b. 1866, d. May-1930 silicosis)
Mother: Katarina Halberstadt Bender Ryan ("Kate", b. 1879, m. 1909, d. 18-Jan-1926 cancer)
Brother: Matthew Bender Ryan (half-brother, b. 1907)
Sister: Neva Bender Ryan Renter (half-sister, b. 1909)
Brother: William George Ryan ("Bill", b. 31-Jan-1910, d. 1997)
Brother: Thomas Sanford Ryan (b. 24-Feb-1911, d. 1992)
Husband: Richard M. Nixon (US President, b. 09-Jan-1913, m. 21-Jun-1940, d. 22-Apr-1994)
Daughter: Patricia Nixon Cox ("Tricia", corporate attorney, b. 21-Feb-1946)
Daughter: Julie Nixon Eisenhower (author, b. 5-Jul-1948)
High School: Excelsior High School, Artesia, CA (1929)
University: Woodbury University (night classes, 1929)
University: Fullerton College (1933)
University: BS Merchandising, University of Southern California (1937)
Teacher: Whittier Union High School, Whittier, CA (1937-41)
Wedding: Edward Cox and Tricia Nixon (1971)
Funeral: Lyndon Johnson (1973)
Traveled to the USSR May-1972
Visited Disneyland Mar-1973
Secret Service Codename Starlight
German Ancestry Maternal
Irish Ancestry Paternal
Risk Factors: Emphysema, Smoking
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