AUSTIN, Texas – Lady Bird Johnson was remembered Saturday for her unfailing kindness, thoughtfulness and even thriftiness as more than 1,000 people gathered overlooking the Texas Hill Country to pay their respects to the former first lady.
The mourners at Johnson’s memorial service included first lady Laura Bush and four former first ladies, as well as former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Johnson died Wednesday at her Austin home at age 94.
Speakers at the two-hour memorial service included her two daughters, Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson Turpin, three granddaughters and longtime friends including Bill Moyers, the former White House press secretary.
Moyers recalled how Johnson braved hostile crowds in Dallas in 1960 and, four years later, on a whistle-stop tour of the Deep South, not long after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act.
“She seemed to grow calmer as the world around her grew more furious,” Moyers recalled.
Robb, the wife of former Virginia governor and U.S. senator Charles Robb, drew appreciative laughs when she spoke of her mother’s frugality. “She wanted to hold on until 2010, so we wouldn’t have to pay any estate taxes,” Robb said. “Oh, durn!”
The traditional Episcopal service ended with the choir and congregation singing “America the Beautiful” before the University of Texas Marching Band, wearing their burnt-orange uniforms, played “The Eyes of Texas,” the university’s official song. Johnson, a UT graduate, was a university regent in the 1970s.
Johnson’s body will be carried this morning from the state Capitol in Austin to the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, 40 miles away, where she will be buried next to her husband under an oak tree in the family cemetery.