Happy Birthday Pat Nixon
Patricia “Pat” Nixon was born on March 16, 1912. From an early age, she worked hard to support herself and her family. Even after losing both parents before she was 20 years old, she excelled and graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California in 1937. It was after she accepted a position as a high-school teacher in Whittier, California, that she met her future husband, Richard Nixon. After appearing together in a play put on by their drama club, Nixon was smitten. Pat was still warming up to this young lawyer but eventually his tenacity and engaging personality won her over. They married on June 21, 1940.
Richard Nixon’s career was a roller coaster of dramatic moments and Pat stuck by him through it all. In 1952, when allegations about a fund managed by Nixon supporters caused the Republican Party to question Nixon’s value as a running mate, it was his speech in front of 60 million TV viewers, now known as the “Checkers” speech, that swayed a nation. Nixon couldn’t help himself from recognizing the wonderful partner he had in Pat and the sacrifices they made to hold public office.
“That’s what we have. And that’s what we owe. It isn’t very much. But Pat and I have the satisfaction that every dime that we have got is honestly ours. I should say this, that Pat doesn’t have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat, and I always tell her she would look good in anything.”
Even when people can’t speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart.
Pat herself recognized the difficulties of a life lived in the public eye, “It takes heart to be in political life.” And together, they did it. Suffering an emotional defeat in 1962 for Governor of California, they regrouped and were ready for Nixon’s comeback in 1968. As first lady, Pat used her position to support the arts. During her time in the White House, she added 600 paintings and antiques to its collection. She also traveled extensively with her husband on high-profile trips overseas, including their historic visit to China in 1972.
Pat Nixon died on June 22, 1993. Her epitaph reads, “Even when people can’t speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart.”