Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower
Biography: Mamie Eisenhower's bangs and sparkling blue eyes were
as much trademarks
of an administration as the President's famous grin. Her outgoing
manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and her obvious
pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady.
Born in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Colorado
when she was seven. Her father retired from business, and Mamie and her
three sisters grew up in a large house in Denver. During winters the
family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San
There, in 1915, at Fort Sam Houston, Mamie met Dwight D. Eisenhower, a
young second lieutenant on his first tour of duty. She drew his attention
instantly, he recalled: "a vivacious and attractive girl, smaller than
average, saucy in the look about her face and in her whole attitude." On
St. 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.
For years Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army
wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal
Zone; duty in France, in the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37
years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant
another step in the career ladder for her husband, with increasing
responsibilities for her.
The first son Doud Dwight or "Icky," who was born in 1917, died of
scarlet fever in 1921. A second child, 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 promotion and fame came to "Ike," his wife
lived in Washington. After he became president of Columbia University in
1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It
was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North
Atlantic Treaty Organization forces--and hers as his hostess at a chateau
near Paris--delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955.
They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last
temporary quarters: the White House.
When Eisenhower had campaigned for President, his wife 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.
In 1961 the Eisenhowers returned to Gettysburg for eight years of
contented retirement 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.