From her impeccable fashion sense to her unwavering support for military families, Mamie Eisenhower was a First Lady who left an indelible mark on American history. While she may not be as well-known as some of her predecessors or successors, this stylish and compassionate woman played a crucial role in shaping the nation during her husband’s presidency.
The Early Years
Mamie Eisenhower (Mary Geneva Doud) was born on November 14, 1896, in Boone, Iowa. She was the third of seven children born to David and Elvira Doud. The family moved to Denver, Colorado, when Mamie was nine years old. Growing up, she enjoyed horseback riding and ice skating. As a teenager, she worked as a clerk at Marshall Field’s department store in Denver.
In 1916, Mamie met Dwight Eisenhower while he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. They were married two years later on July 1, 1918. The couple had two sons: Dwight D. Eisenhower Jr., who was born in 1924; and John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, who was born in 1930.
During World War II, Mamie served as a volunteer hostess at the Army Air Forces (AAF) Information and Education Division in Washington, D.C. She also worked for the American Red Cross and United Service Organizations (USO). In 1945, she accompanied her husband to Europe as he oversaw military operations there.
After the war ended, the Eisenhower’s returned to the United States and settled in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In 1948, Dwight Eisenhower was being courted by both political parties to run for president. Ultimately he did not seek office. Four years later however, Eisenhower successfully ran for president against Adlai Stevenson and assumed office on January 20 1953.
The White House Years
Mamie Eisenhower was the nation’s first lady from 1953 to 1961, and was the wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. She was known for her love of fashion and her elegant style. Mamie was also a noted hostess, and entertaining at the White House was one of her favorite duties. She oversaw the renovation of the White House during her husband’s administration, and helped to make it the “people’s house” that it is today.
In her later years, Mamie Eisenhower became an advocate for the disabled and wrote her memoirs. She also continued to be active in Republican politics. In 1971, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. She died in 1979 at the age of 79.
Mamie Eisenhower was a beloved First Lady of the United States. She is remembered for her commitment to traditional values, her support of American armed forces, and her promotion of healthy homes through her “Operation Homefront” program. Her legacy lives on today in the form of statues, stamps, books and other memorabilia that recall this remarkable woman who served as America’s first lady from 1953-1961.