In honor of First Lady Pat Nixon‘s birthday — she would have been 98 today, but she died in 1993 — we offer the first ever (maybe?) “Pat Nixon Desert Turkey” photo:
Pat was born Thelma Catherine Ryan in the tiny town of Ely, Nevada. Her father nicknamed her Pat, they say, because her birthday is so close to St. Patrick‘s Day.
Like many First Ladies of the olden days, her life was full of hard knocks. Her mom died when she was a young teenager, and her father died four years later. She left the family farm in California and went off to New York to work.
She returned to California in 1932 and ended up graduating cum laude from USC. She met Dick Nixon in Whittier, California, where she was working as a teacher. They met through a local theater production and Dick proposed to her the night of their first meeting. She refused at first, but married him two years later.
Pat wasn’t as interested in politics as her husband and didn’t relish the limelight, but she stood by her man through all those years. As First Lady she refurnished the White House and tried to make it more accessible to the public, while her husband was busy trying to keep secrets.
She died from lung cancer on June 22nd, a day after her 53rd wedding anniversary.