Eisenhower Mamie Geneva Doud

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower (1896–1979), 9th cousin 1x removed

Dwight & Maimie Doud Eisenhower

Dwight & Maimie Doud Eisenhower

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower was the wife of 34th United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady of the United States from 1953-1961.  She was born in Boone, Iowa and was the second child born to John Sheldon Doud, a meatpacking executive, and his wife, the former Elivera Mathilde Carlson.  Mamie grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado, and the Doud winter home in San Antonio, Texas.  Her father, who retired at age 36, ran a meatpacking company founded by his father, Doud & Montgomery (“Buyers of Live Hogs”), and had investments in Illinois and Iowa stockyards.  Her mother was a daughter of Swedish immigrants.  She had three sisters: Eleanor Carlson Doud, Eda Mae Doud, and Mabel Frances “Mike” Doud.

Soon after completing her education at Miss Wolcott’s finishing school, she met Dwight Eisenhower at San Antonio in October 1915.  Introduced by Mrs. Lulu Harris, wife of a fellow officer at Fort Sam Houston, the two hit it off at once, as Eisenhower, officer of the day, invited Miss Doud to accompany him on his rounds.  On St. Valentine’s Day in 1916, he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement.  Lt. Dwight D. Eisenhower, aged 25, married Mamie Doud, aged 19, on 1 Jul 1916, at the home of the bride’s parents in Denver, Colorado.

The Eisenhowers had two children (only one lived to adulthood):

  • Doud Dwight “Icky” (September 24, 1917 – January 2, 1921) died of scarlet fever.
  • John Sheldon Doud (August 3, 1922 – December 21, 2013) – soldier, diplomat, author – was born in Denver, Colorado; he graduated from West Point in 1944 and earned a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1950.  After retiring from a military career (1944–1963), he was appointed ambassador to Belgium (1969–1971) by Richard Nixon.  He authored three books: an account of the Battle of the Bulge, The Bitter Woods (1969); Strictly Personal (1974) and Allies: Pearl Harbor to D-Day (1982).

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, and in the Philippine Islands.  Although accustomed to more creature comforts than those afforded at military posts, Mamie adjusted readily and joined her husband in moving 28 times before their retirement at the end of his term as president.

During the Second World War, while promotion and fame came to “Ike”, his wife lived in Washington, D.C.  After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm (now the Eisenhower National Historic Site) 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 villa near Paris – delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955.

 

Portrait of Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower by Thomas Stephens, 1959.

Portrait of Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower by Thomas Stephens, 1959.

First Lady of the United States

The Eisenhowers celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House.  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.  As First Lady, she was noted for her outgoing manner, her love of pretty clothes, jewelry and her obvious pride in husband and home.  The gown she wore to her husband’s inauguration is one of the most popular in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s collection of inaugural gowns.  As First Lady, she was a gracious hostess but carefully guarded her privacy.  A victim of Ménière’s disease, an inner-ear disorder that affects equilibrium,  Eisenhower was uneasy on her feet, which fed rumors that she had a drinking problem.  Eisenhower was known as a penny pincher who clipped coupons for the White House staff.  Her recipe for “Mamie’s million dollar fudge” was reproduced by housewives all over the country after it was printed in many publications.

As described in multiple biographies, including Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West, Eisenhower was reportedly unhappy with the idea of John F. Kennedy coming into office following her husband’s term.

In 1961, Eisenhower retired with the former president to Gettysburg, their first permanent home.  After her husband’s death in 1969, she continued to live full-time on the farm until she took an apartment in Washington, D.C., in the late 1970s.  She appeared in a campaign commercial for her husband’s former Vice President Richard Nixon in 1972.  Eisenhower suffered a stroke on 25 Sep 1979.  She was rushed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Ike had died a decade before.  Eisenhower remained in the hospital, and on October 31, announced to her granddaughter Mary Jean that she would die the next day.  She died in her sleep very early the morning of November 1, less than two weeks shy of her 83rd birthday.  She was buried next to the president and her first son at Place of Meditation on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.  In 1980, her birthplace in Boone, Iowa, was dedicated as a historic site; Abigail Adams is the only other First Lady to be so honored.  One of the east-west streets in Boone (Fourth Street) is now called Mamie Eisenhower Avenue.

Because of her connection with the city of Denver and the area surrounding, a park in southeast Denver was given Mamie’s name, as well as a public library in Broomfield, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.

Mamie Geneva Doud (1896 – 1979), 9th cousin 1x removed – John Sheldon Doud (1870 – 1951) – Royal Houghton Doud (1838 – 1901) – Maria Riggs (1806 – 1895) – George Riggs (1786 – 1857) – James Riggs (1758 – 1839) – John Riggs (1735 – 1823) – John Riggs (1712 – 1803) – Ebenezer Riggs (1678 – 1712) – Samuel Riggs (1640 – 1738) – Edward Riggs (1614 – 1668) – Edward Riggs (1636 – 1715) – Edward Riggs (1668 – 1692) – Mary Riggs (1707 – 1764) – Isaac Morris (1741 – 1828) – Benjamin Morris (1774 – 1861) – Isaac Morris (1800 – 1881) – Julia Ann Morris (1834 – 1906) – Paul Carl Emannuel Watkins (1864 – 1931) – Florence Eugenie Watkins (1903 – 1985) – Penelope Jane Walholm (1939 – ) – Tor Martin (Majerus) Hylbom

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