Pat Nixon

First Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974
(Redirected from Thelma Catherine Ryan)

Patricia Ryan Nixon (March 16, 1912 – June 22, 1993) was an American educator who was the first lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974 as the wife of the 37th president of the United States, Richard Nixon. Before becoming first lady, she was the second lady of the United States 1953 to 1961 when her husband was vice president.

Pat Nixon
Official portrait, 1972
First Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byLady Bird Johnson
Succeeded byBetty Ford
Second Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
Vice PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byJane Barkley
Succeeded byLady Bird Johnson
Personal details
Thelma Catherine Ryan

(1912-03-16)March 16, 1912
Ely, Nevada, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 1993(1993-06-22) (aged 81)
Park Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
Resting placeRichard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Political partyRepublican
Richard Nixon (m. 1940)
EducationFullerton College
University of Southern California (BS)



Early life and education


Thelma Catherine Ryanwas born on March 16, 1912, in Ely, Nevada. Her father, William M. Ryan Sr., was a sailor, gold miner, and truck farmer of Irish ancestry and her mother, Katherine Halberstadt, was a German immigrant.

After her birth, The family then moved from Nevada to California to a small farm in Artesia, California.

Ryan's mother died in 1925. At the age of 13, she took over the household duties for her father and her brothers. Two years later, when she was attending Excelsior High School, her father became seriously ill and he died in 1930.



Ryan enrolled at Fullerton College in 1931 and earned her money by working part time as a janitor in a local bank. She drove elderly friends of her family to New York where she stayed for two years working in a hospital, first as a secretary, and later, after a Columbia University summer course in radiology as an X-ray technician.

In 1934, she returned to California to enroll at the University of Southern California. While in college, she worked as many as 40 hours a week, both on and off campus, while majoring in merchandising. In 1937, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in merchandising and a certificate to teach at the high school level.

Her first job following graduation was teaching business education courses at Whittier Union High School for an annual salary of $1,800.

Her interest in drama began during her working days at USC when she earned $25 for a walk-on part as an extra in the movie, Becky Sharp. In addition to directing the high school plays, she joined the Whittier Little Theater group. Later, she met Richard Nixon, a lawyer who graduated from Duke University Law School in Durham, North Carolina.

Nixon worked in a bank in Ottumwa and when her husband was assigned to duty in the South Pacific, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked as an economist for the Office of Price Administration.

Marriage and family


They met in 1937, and got married on June 21, 1940, in a Quaker ceremony at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, California. Their first daughter, Tricia, was born on February 21, 1946. Their second daughter, Julie, was born, on July 5, 1948.

Second Lady, 1953–1961


Nixon became the second lady of the United States when her husband was sworn in as the 36th vice president on January 20, 1953. As second lady, Nixon accompanied her husband abroad during his vice presidential years. She traveled to 53 nations, often visiting hospitals, orphanages, schools and a leper colony in Panama.

First Lady, 1969–1974


Nixon became the first lady of the United States when her husband was sworn in as the 37th president on January 20, 1969. As first lady, One of her major initiatives as was the promotion of volunteerism, which she encouraged Americans to address social problems through volunteering at hospitals, civic organizations, and rehabilitation centers.[1][2]

Nixon held the record as the most-traveled first lady utnil she was surpassed by Hillary Clinton.[3] In her husband's first term, she traveled to 39 states.[4] She took foreign trips in countries such as, Guam, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, Romania, and England.[5] During trip to South Vietnam, she became the first first lady to enter a war zone.[3]

Death and funeral


Nixon died at her Park Ridge, New Jersey, home at 5:45 a.m. on June 22, 1993.[6] She was 81 years old. Her daughters and husband were by her side.

The funeral service for Pat Nixon took place on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda and was later buried on June 26, 1993.[7][8]


  1. "Biography of First Lady Pat Nixon". Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation. 2005. Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  2. Anthony (1991), p. 177
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cite error: The named reference First Lady Pat Nixon3 was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  4. O'Brien & Suteski (2005), p. 239.
  5. Anthony (1991), p. 171
  6. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration. 1993. p. 1157. Archived from the original on July 5, 2023. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  7. Thomas (1999), p. 258.
  8. Brower, Kate Andersen (2016). First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies. 195 Broadway New York, NY 10007: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. p. 321. ISBN 9780062439666.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)