Tags: Stroke | Silences | Lady | Bird | Johnson

Stroke Silences Lady Bird Johnson

Friday, 03 May 2002 12:00 AM

The first 24 hours are critical to evaluating the effects of a stroke, said cardiologist Dr. Rodney Horton, and more time is needed to evaluate the condition of the 89-year-old former first lady.

"We're still not certain how permanent this is or how severe this is," he said. "It does appear she has lost the power of speech."

Mrs. Johnson was reported in stable condition at Seton Hospital. She is in good spiriits, her daughter Luci Baines Johnson said at the news conference.

"She is alert and eager to get more sleep than the hospital provides with all the testing that has been taking place," she said.

Mrs. Johnson began having trouble speaking at her Austin home late Thursday. She was taken to the hospital after Secret Service agents administered oxygen.

Luci Johnson told Austin radio station KLBJ on Thursday that her mother had been in and out of the hospital this year, but doctors have made no firm diagnosis.

"The circumstances are challenging as they frequently are when one gets older, but mother is handling them with great dignity and grace as she has all things," she said.

The former first lady was admitted to the hospital in 1999 after suffering a fainting spell. She was released within a few days. She is treated for an irregular heartbeat and has a pacemaker, according to her secretary, Betty Tilson.

Former President Jimmy Carter called Johnson at the hospital Thursday night to wish her well, and several family members and friends paid visits. George Christian, former President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary and a friend, said she was alert and in good humor.

Mrs. Johnson continues to make public appearances in the Austin area and still holds a seat on the board of the family's media company, but daughter Luci runs the business. She still attends the meetings and offers advice.

Mrs. Johnson, who was married to Lyndon Johnson for 39 years, was known as a champion of the environment and highway beautification during her six years in the White House. She was the key figure in passage of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which restricted junkyards and billboards on the nation's highways.

Even after leaving Washington in 1969, she continued to campaign for environmental issues, especially the preservation of wildflowers. She founded Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center, a research facility in the Hill Country near Austin.

She was born Claudia Alta Taylor in Karnack, Texas on Dec. 22, 1912. When she was a small girl, a nursemaid said she was "as purty as a lady bird," and that became her nickname. She married Johnson in 1934 after a whirlwind courtship, and the couple had two daughters, Luci and Lynda. The ex-president died in 1973.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The first 24 hours are critical to evaluating the effects of a stroke, said cardiologist Dr. Rodney Horton, and more time is needed to evaluate the condition of the 89-year-old former first lady. We're still not certain how permanent this is or how severe this is, he...
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2002-00-03
Friday, 03 May 2002 12:00 AM
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