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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Your Favorite First Lady

Posted July 12, 2007 8:23 a.m. EDT

Who is your favorite first lady of all time?

I started thinking about this with the death of Lady Bird Johnson. She was an incredible person who reminded me of a lot of the strong and colorful women I grew up with in Burke County. Lady Bird was an early environmentalist, a courageous supporter of civil rights, and a very bright and compassionate personality who had a powerful influence on the decisions of LBJ. Plus, I absolutely loved her Texas dialect.

Dolley Madison is another one of my favorites. She grew up as a Quaker in the Greensboro area. After the death of her first husband she married James Madison who was 17 years her senior. Dolley Madison was famous for her sassy personality, social graces and passion for snuff. Historians say she slept in Washington with a sabre by her bedside during the British invasion of 1812.

The only first lady I have had the pleasure of spending much time with is Barbara Bush. During a one-on-one interview with her in Houston in 1992 I was impressed with her candor, sincerity, spunk and humor even though I asked her a series of tough questions.

Who, in your opinion is the finest of the first ladies?