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1953 Portrait by Horst

Johnson Letter

November 26, 1963

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for walking yesterday - behind Jack. You did not have to do that - I am sure many people forbid you to take such a risk - but you did it anyway.

Thank you for your letters to my children. What those letters will mean to them later - you can imagine. The touching thing is, they have always loved you so much, they were most moved to have a letter from you now.

And most of all, Mr. President, thank you for the way you have always treated me - the way you and Lady Bird have always been to me - before, when Jack was alive, and now as President.

I think the relationship of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential families could be a rather strained one. From the history I have been reading ever since I came to the White House, I gather it often was in the past.

But you were Jack’s right arm - and I always thought the greatest act of a gentleman that I had seen on this earth - was how you - the Majority Leader when he came to the Senate as just another little freshman who looked up to you and took orders from you, could then serve as Vice President to a man who had served under you and been taught by you.

But more than that we were friends, all four of us. All you did for me as a friend and the happy times we had. I always thought way before the nomination that Lady Bird should be First Lady - but I don’t need to tell you here what I think of her qualities - her extraordinary grace of character - her willingness to assume every burden - she assumed so many for me and I love her very much - and I love your two daughters - Lynda Bird most because I know her the best - and we first met when neither of us could get a seat to hear President Eisenhower’s State of the Union message, and someone found us a place on one of the steps on the aisle where we sat together. If we had known then what our relationship would be now.

It was so strange - last night I was wandering through this house. There in the Treaty Room is your chandelier, and I had framed - the page we all signed - you - Senator Dirksen and Mike Mansfield - underneath I had written “The day the Vice President brought the East Room chandelier back from the Capitol.”

Then in the library I showed Bobby the Lincoln Record book you gave - you see all you gave - and now you are called on to give so much more.

Your office - you are the first President to sit in it as it looks today. Jack always wanted a red rug - and I had curtains designed for it that I thought were as dignified as they should be for a President’s office.

Late last night a moving man asked me if I wanted Jack’s ship pictures left on the wall for you (They were clearing the office to make room for you) - I said no because I remembered all the fun Jack had those first days hanging pictures of things he loved, setting out his collection of whales teeth etc.

But of course they are there only waiting for you to ask for them if the walls look too bare. I thought you would want to put things from Texas in it - I pictured some gleaming longhorns - I hope you put them somewhere.

It mustn’t be very much help to you your first day in office - to hear children on the lawn at recess. It is just one more example of your kindness that you let them stay - I promise - they will soon be gone -

Thank you Mr. President.

Respectfully,

Jackie

Source: LBJ Library

By the Numbers

By Steven L. Brawley

Numbers

 

Height:                 5’7

Weight:                130 lbs

Measurements 35.5x26X38.5

Birthday:              7-28-29

Death                   5-19-94

Social Security Number   578-46- 7607

Doubleday phone             212-492-9747 (no longer a working number, do don’t call)

MA Driver’s License         578467607 (expired 1982)

 

Tragedies

Research by Steven L. Brawley

1941

  • Rosemary Kennedy, who had intellectual disabilites, is institutionalized following a failed lobotomy. She is the eldest Kennedy daughter of Joseph and Rose. She would inspire her sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver to create the Special Olympics.

1944

  • Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the oldest Kennedy son, dies in a plane crash over the English Channel during World War II. The pilot was 29 at the time of his death.

1948

  • Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish dies in a plane crash in France at age 28. Her husband, William John Robert Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, died in World War II.

1956

  • Jackie Kennedy gives birth to a stillborn daughter whom they planned to name Arabella.

1961

  • On December 19, 1961, at the age of 73, Joseph Kennedy Sr. suffers a massive stroke. He survived but was left paralyzed on his right side and with a language disorder, aphasia, that severely affected his ability to speak. 

1963

  • Joan Kennedy suffers miscarriage. (Would also miscarry again in 1964 and 1969).
  • Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the second son of President Kennedy and his wife Jackie, dies on August 7, two days after he was born almost six weeks premature.
  • President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on Nov. 22 in Dallas. He was 46.

1964

  • Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy child, escapes death in a plane crash that claims an aide, Edward Moss.

1966

  • Patricia Kennedy Lawford (sister of President Kennedy) and her husband Peter Lawford (actor) divorce.

1968

  • Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated on June 5 in Los Angeles. The 42 year old had just won California's Democratic presidential primary election.

1969

  • Senator Edward M. Kennedy, drives off a bridge on his way home from a party on Massachusetts' Chappaquiddick Island. Mary Jo Kopechne, an aide who was in the car with him, dies in the accident.

1973

  • Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., the senator's son, loses his right leg to cancer.
  • Joseph P. Kennedy 2d, the son of Robert and Ethel, is the driver in a car accident on Cape Cod that leaves one passenger permanently paralyzed.

1980

  • Senator Edward Kennedy fails in his attempt to capture the Democratic presidential nomination after a bitter feud with President Jimmy Carter and constant reminders of the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident.

1982

  • Senator Edward Kennedy and his wife Joan divorce.

1984

  • David A. Kennedy, son of Robert, dies of a drug overdose in a Palm Beach, Florida, hotel. He was 28.

1991

  • William Kennedy Smith, the son of Jean Kennedy Smith, is accused of raping a woman at the family's Palm Beach, Florida, vacation home. He is tried and acquitted.

1994

  • Jackie Kennedy Onassis dies of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

1997

  • Michael Kennedy, the son of Robert, dies in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. He was 39. Prior to the accident, Michael made headlines for allegedly having a long-term affair with his children's babysitter.

1999

  • John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, die when their plane crashes in the waters off Martha's Vineyard, Ma. Kennedy was flying the Piper Saratoga plane that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.

2002

  • Michael Skakel, nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was found guilty in June by a Connecticut jury of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley. Skakel was 15 when Moxley, also 15, was found bludgeoned to death outside her Greenwich, Conn., home. Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in August.

2004-Present

  • After years of chronic alcoholism, Joan Kennedy (former wife of Senator Edward Kennedy) becomes so incapacitated that her son Ted Jr. is appointed her legal guardian; in 2005 her children were granted temporary guardianship. That year, she was hospitalized with a concussion and a broken shoulder after being found lying in a Boston street near her home. At her request in 2005, her second cousin, financial planner Webster E. Janssen of Connecticut, established a trust controlling her estate in violation of her sons' guardianship. Her children later took successful legal action against Janssen, removing him as trustee and later filing a complaint against him with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That October, She was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery. She agreed to strict court-ordered guardianship and her estate has since been placed in a new trust overseen by two court-appointed trustees.

2005

  • Rosemary Kennedy dies on January 7 in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, at age 86.

2006

  • U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy, son of Senator Edward and Joan Kennedy, admits himself into drug rehab after series of car accidents. He is re-admitted in 2009 and chooses not to run for re-election.

2008

  • Senator Edward Kennedy is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on May 20.

2009

  • Senator Edward Kennedy dies on August 25. His sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died two weeks earlier, on August 11.

2011

  • Kara Kennedy, the daughter of Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy dies on September 16 of a heart attack. She was 51. Kennedy was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002.

2012

  • Mary Richardson Kennedy, the 52-year-old estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is found dead in the barn of her Bedford, N.Y., home. She died of an apparent suicide.
  • Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, sideswiped a tractor trailer on Interstate 684 while under the influence of zolpidem, which Kennedy claimed to have mistaken for her daily thyroid medication. She was acquitted on all charges on February 28, 2014.

 

Jackie's Death

Research by Steven L. Brawley

November 1993

  • Jackie shows no apparent sign of illness as of November, when she has a CAT scan after falling off a horse while riding in Virginia.

December 1993

  • Jackie seemed healthy until early December, when she was in Virginia and noticed a swelling in her right groin. A doctor there diagnosed a swollen lymph node, and suspecting an infection, prescribed antibiotics. The swelling diminished but did not completely disappear.
  • While on a boat in the Caribbean over the Christmas holidays, Jackie developed a cough, swollen lymph nodes in her neck and pain in her abdomen.
  • After consulting by telephone with a doctor in New York City, she flies back to Manhattan. The doctor finds enlarged lymph nodes in her neck and in her armpit. A computerized type of X-ray, a CAT scan, showed that there were swollen lymph nodes in her chest and in an area deep in the abdomen, the retroperitoneal area.
  • A biopsy of one of the neck nodes shows that she had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. A pathologist noted that the cells were anaplastic -- that is, they were undeveloped, what doctors call "embryonic" or "primitive," indicating that the disease was highly malignant.
  • Jackie is offered a chance to seek a second opinion elsewhere, but declines to do so. The pathology slides of her lymph nodes are sent to experts at a hospital in another city, and a doctor from that hospital come as a consultant to New York City.

January 1994

  • In early January, she begins receiving the first of four standard courses of chemotherapy for the lymphoma. The therapy includes steroid drugs, and the initial treatment led to an apparent remission. She loses her hair and begins to don a wig. She works as often as she can at her job as an editor with Doubleday.

February 1994

  • Jackie signs a living will that clearly expressed her wish not to receive aggressive medical treatment if she developed a grave illness and such measures would be futile.
  • In February the intensely private Jackie announces she has been given the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

March 1994

  • Bt mid-March, she becomes weaker, became confused and has pains in her legs. A neurological examination indicated that the cerebellum portion of her brain had now been affected.
  • Another type of scan, an M.R.I., showed that the lymphoma had disappeared from her neck, chest and abdomen but that it had spread to the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
  • After the cancer was found in her brain, Jackie receives radiation therapy there and to her lower spinal cord for about a month. The treatment relieves her weakness, but she continues to experience pain in her neck, for which she is given pain medications. During this time she receives her care at home and as a hospital out-patient.

April 1994 

  • On April 14, she is was admitted to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center after she developes a perforated ulcer in her stomach, a complication of the steroid therapy. Surgeons sewed up the hole in the stomach that day. 
  • But the cancer in her spinal cord and brain continues to worsen. Although a tube was placed in her brain to deliver an anti-cancer drug, a sophisticated but now standard form of therapy for this condition, the lymphoma in her brain does not respond to any therapy. During this period, she loses weight, her speech slows, she is less alert and has difficulty walking.

May 15, 1994

  • Jackie is photographed walking in Central Park on Sunday - unable to walk very far and needing to be supported by her companion, Maurice Tempelsman.

May 16, 1994

  • On Monday, she develops shaking chills and becomes disoriented. Maurice and a nurse take her to New York Hospital, where she is admitted. Doctors diagnose pneumonia and give her antibiotics by injection. The drug and radiation therapy have weakened her immune system, leaving her vulnerable to infection.  

May 17, 1994

  • She rallies initially, but on Tuesday her condition takes a turn for the worse.

May 18, 1994

  • On Wednesday, doctors find that the lymphoma had recurred in her liver, where it had been present earlier. They tell her that the cancer was no longer treatable.
  • Jackie returns to her apartment on Wednesday. Aggressive therapy, including antibiotic treatment of pneumonia that she had developed earlier in the week, are halted in keeping with the wishes Jackie has expressed in a living will.

May 19, 1994

  • Close family and friends gather at her 1040 Fifth Avenue to say their final goodbyes. Caroline, John, and Maurice are with her when she passes away at the age of 64 in her bedroom at 10:15 pm.

May 20, 1994

  • John Jr. descends from the 15th floor apartment where he and Caroline had been raised, stood on the sidewalk where hundreds of reporters, cameramen and well-wishers are gathered and issues a brief statement. "Last night, at around 10:15, my mother passed on," John said. "She was surrounded by her friends and family and her books and the people and the things that she loved. And she did it in her own way, and we all feel lucky for that, and now she's in God's hands." 

May 21, 1994

  • She is embalmed in her own master bathroom under the direction of the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel.
  • Jackie is placed in the same model casket that was used for JFK. The casket was manufactured by the Marsellus Casket Company of Syracuse (NY), which had acquired the reputation of being the finest manufacturer of hardwood caskets in America. The "Seven Ten" design (which was the company's third most expensive) was chosen for the burial of JFK and several other American presidents (Ford, Nixon, and probably also for Hoover) as well, and therefore became something like an unofficial "presidential casket" in the US. Although the model 710 is a plain and unpretentious looking design of timeless simplicity, representing the understatement style of the Eastern elite, it is nevertheless an expensive luxury casket made from solid 1-1/4" and 2-1/2" planks of African mahogany. The casket has heavily rounded corners and all wooden swing bar handles with bronze tips and lugs.
  • Her funeral shroud is unknown, but likely an outfit chosen from her vast wardrobe.

May 22, 1994

  • Jackie's family, friends and close associates pay their respects at an informal wake in her living room - featuring her closed coffin draped with an antique cloth.

May 23, 1994

  • Jackie's funeral is held at New York's St. Ignatius Loyola, the Roman Catholic church where Jackie was baptized as an infant and confirmed as a 12-year-old.
  • At about 12:45 p.m. her body is transported on a chartered 737 Boeing jet from New York City to Washington, where a motorcade of motorcycles, buses and limousines escorts Jackie through the black iron gates of Arlington National Cemetery. There, in front of a private gathering of fewer than 100 people that included the President and Mrs. Clinton, Jackie, in a mahogany casket covered with ferns and a cross of white lilies-of-the-valley, is laid to rest between her husband Jack and her stillborn daughter. Her son Patrick, who died two days after his birth in 1963, lies on the former President's other side. "God gave her very great gifts and imposed upon her great burdens," said the President during the 11-minute ceremony. "She bore them all with dignity and grace and uncommon common sense."  

 

 

JFK Jr.'s Death

Research by Brandon Wolf

Friday, July 16, 1999

  • 8:39 PM: Kennedy's plane departed. He had checked in with the FAA tower at Martha's Vineyard Airport in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, before take-off.
  • 9:33 PM: The plane, still headed northeast, began descending from its cruising altitude of 5,500 feet.
  • 9:38 PM: The plane while still descending began a slight turn to the right so that it was headed due east, lining itself up with the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. John Jr. always did this so he could fly over his late mother’s Red Gate Farm.
  • 9:38 PM and 20 seconds: The plane completed the turn and stopped its descent, leveling off at 2200 feet. But it’s against FAA regulations for a plane to fly below 2,500 feet without first contacting the tower. So in a manner that’s typical of John’s carefulness and following procedures, he brought the plane back up to 2,500 feet.
  • 9:38 PM and 50 seconds: With wings level, the plane was on final approach, with 14 miles to go to the airport. At 200 mph, the plane would land in about 5 minutes.
  • 9:39 PM: John contacted the tower. He said he was 13 miles from the airport and 10 miles from the coast. He reportedly said he was making his final approach. In his final approach message, Kennedy told controllers at the airport that he planned to drop off his wife's sister and then take off again between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. for Hyannis Airport. (This information was provided by Coast Guard Petty Officer Todd Burgun, who said he got it from the FAA.)
  • 9:40 PM and 15 seconds: The plane suddenly dove out of the sky, falling 2,500 feet in 45 seconds, crashing into the water at 200 mph.
  • 10:00 PM: A well-dressed couple with a child who had come to the airport to meet Lauren Bessette grew concerned when the plane did not arrive as expected by 10 PM.
  • 10:05 PM: Adam Budd, an employee at Martha’s Vineyard Airport is approached by the friends of Lauren Bessette, who said she should have arrive at 9:44 PM. ''Actually, Kennedy Jr.'s on board. He's, uh, they wanna know, uh, where he is,'' Budd told an unidentified FAA employee at the Bridgeport Automated Flight Service Station. Budd said:
  • During his conversation with the unidentified FAA employee, Budd asked if the FAA could track an airplane. Budd said he was with airport operations at Martha's Vineyard, then mentioned Kennedy's name and provided two possible aircraft numbers for Kennedy's plane.
  • The employee questioned Budd repeatedly about who he was and where he was calling from. After Budd gave his name, the FAA employee asked if he was, in fact, with airport operations. He ultimately told Budd, ''We don't give this information out to people over the phone.''
  • 11:00 PM: Senator Edward Kennedy contacted the FAA to let them know the plane was missing. The FAA officials did nothing.

Saturday, July 17, 1999

  • 2:15 AM: Carol Radziwill, fed up with the FAA, called the Coast Guard and set in motion a multiagency search that began with calls to regional airports.
  • 3:28 AM: An official search and rescue mission is launched by the Coast Guard.
  • 6:30 AM: Ted Kennedy woke up John Podesta, Clinton’s Chief of Staff.
  • 7:00 AM: Podesta woke up Clinton.
  • 7:15 AM: Clinton told Podesta to call the Air Force and warn them if they didn’t have a search underway in 15 minutes, they shouldn’t bother to come to work Monday morning because they would all be fired, if they weren’t in jail.
  • 12:30 PM: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Todd Burgun, a public information officer, holds a standard briefing, as he did in all other search and rescue operation.
  • 12:35 PM: WCVB (Boston) news anchor Susan Warnick reports there is a significant new development in the case of Kennedy's missing plane. "We have been told by the Coast Guard that in fact there is now evidence of a last communication, last night, with JFK Jr.'s plane as it was on approach to Martha's Vineyard Airport.”
  • Warnick then holds a phone interview with Petty Officer Todd Burgun: “JFK, Jr. contacted the Martha’s Vineyard tower at 9:39 pm, Friday night, telling them he was descending. All I know at this time is that it was at 9:39 PM, and it was with the FAA and it was on approach."
  • 1:00 PM – Beachgoers on a beach just a short distance from Jackie’s beach find items from plane, floating in to land. They bring them in, and phone the police.
  • 1:55 PM – In a surprise move, the Pentagon takes over reporting of news of the crash. They deny anything Burgun had said. Burgun disappears from history.

Sunday, July 18, 1999

  • All Day: The search continues.

Monday, July 19, 1999

  • All Day: The search continues.

Tuesday, July 20, 1999

  • 11:30 PM: A large portion of the plane's fuselage was found, by a submerged camera device.

Wednesday, July 21, 1999

  • 1:30 AM – Divers locate JFK Jr.'s body in the cockpit, which has snapped away from the fuselage. The Bessett women are found in the fuselage. All three are strapped in their seats with seat belts.
  • 2:30 AM: The White House is notified.
  • 4:30 AM: The bodies are brought up. Teddy and several Kennedy men are there to accompany them. Teddy goes on board and identifies the bodies. They are then taken to Barnstable County Medical Examiner's Office in Pocasset to be autopsied.
  • 9:30 AM: President Clinton is updated.
  • 11:00 PM: The bodies arrive at the Duxbury Crematory, in Duxbury, Massachusetts, accompanied by several Kennedy cousins, and are cremated.

Thursday, July 22, 1999

  • 5:00 AM: Kennedy family members leave the Crematory with the ashes. 
  • 9:00 AM: The Kennedys and Bessetts board the destroyer USS Briscoe. They travel 20 miles out to sea, where they scatter the ashes, from a small platform on the lower rear of the ship.

Friday, July 23, 1999

  • 11:00 AM: A memorial service for JFK Jr. and Carolyn is held at St. Thomas More church in New York City.
  • 7:00 PM: A memorial service for Lauren Bessette is held at Christ Church in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.