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Nellie Connally, former Texas First lady ( 1919-2006)

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Nellie Connally, former Texas First lady ( 1919-2006)

Posted: 1157495759000
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Brill, Connally, Ammann,Stevens
Nellie Connally

AUSTIN, Texas - Nellie Connally, the former Texas first lady who was riding in President John F. Kennedy's limousine when he was assassinated, has died, a family friend said. The 87-year-old was the last living person who had been part of that fateful Dallas drive.

Connally, the widow of former Governor John Connally, died late Friday, 1 Sept 2006 at an Austin assisted living center, Julian Read, who served as the governor's press secretary in the 1960s, said Saturday.

As the limousine carrying the Connallys and the Kennedys wound its way through the friendly crowd in downtown Dallas, Nellie Connally turned to President Kennedy, who was in a seat behind her, and said, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."

Almost immediately, she heard the first of what she later concluded were three gunshots in quick succession. John Connally slumped after the second shot, and, "I never looked back again. I was just trying to take care of him," she said.

She later said the most enduring image of that day was the bloodstained roses.

"It's the image of yellow roses and red roses and blood all over the car ... all over us," she said in a 2003 interview. "I'll never forget it. ... It was so quick and so short, so potent."

In 2003, she published a photo-filled book - "From Love Field: Our Final Hours with President John F. Kennedy" - based on 22 pages of handwritten notes she compiled about a week after the assassination and rediscovered in 1996.

Texas Governor Rick Perry called Connally "the epitome of graciousness."

"Long before she was propelled into the national spotlight from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, she was a Texas icon," Perry said in a statement.

Connally, formerly Idanell "Nellie" Brill, met her husband at the University of Texas in Austin,TX and they married on Dec. 21, 1940.

She served on the Board of Visitors of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center since 1984, and a fund in her name raised millions for research and patient programs. The Houston hospital's center for breast cancer also is named for Connally, a survivor of the disease for more than 15 years.

About a year ago, Connally moved back to Austin after decades in Houston and remained active until her death.

"She has been extremely active and vital the past few days and weeks," Read said. "It's a shock to all of us."

Survivors include her daughter, Sharon Connally Ammann, and two sons, John B. Connally III and Mark Connally.

Funeral services are pending. She is to be buried near her late husband in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


Idanell (Nellie) Brill Connally Idanell (Nellie) B. Connally, former First Lady of Texas, died unexpectedly Friday night, September 1, 2006, at her Westminster Manor residence in Austin. Nellie Connally had been a prominent and beloved figure in Texas public and private life for more than half a century. She was born in Austin TX on February 24, 1919 to early Texas pioneer parents Mr. and Mrs. Arno Brill, and celebrated her 87th birthday here this year with her three children and spouses, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren at a neighborhood cantina. The former Idanell Brill was the recipient of numerous honors as a University of Texas student, including Sweetheart of the University in 1938, the same year that her husband-to-be was voted president of the student body. She and John were the only married couple ever to be honored separately as Distinguished Alumni of U.T. with individual recognition 10 years apart. Nellie and John were married in Austin's First United Methodist Church on December 21, 1940, the same church in which Governor Connally's funeral service was conducted on June 17, 1993, and where her own service will be held this week. During their 53-year marriage, they traveled together to more than 60 countries. Nellie Connally served as First Lady of Texas from 1963 through 1968 during the administration of her late husband, Governor John B. Connally, Jr. During her tenure in the Governor's mansion, she was responsible for the planning and creation of its present day gardens and received the first Ruth Lester Award for her work. She also was instrumental in development of the first Travel Trails by the Texas Tourist Development Agency. Mrs. Connally also collected silver for the Mansion while in residence. When the Connallys moved there, there were few pieces. Through numerous gifts and contributions, she acquired a lovely collection, which remains at the Mansion. Subsequent to Governor Connally's administration, she served as a member of the Texas Historical Commission. She also was instrumental in helping complete Tranquility Park in downtown Houston. Mrs. Connally was a resident of Washington, D.C. as a young bride and lived with Ladybird Johnson when their husbands served in World War II.. She returned there with him while John Connally served as Secretary of the Navy following appointment by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, and again in 1971 when President Richard Nixon appointed him Secretary of the Treasury. The Connallys resided in Houston for a number of years following his governorship, and she remained there after his death. A member of St. Luke's Methodist Church, she was active in a number of community and charity organizations, including service with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Nellie B. Connally Breast Cancer Research Fund and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she was a member of its Board of Visitors. The new M.D. Anderson Breast Cancer Clinic bears her name. For three years, she also served as Honorary Chair of the Children's Miracle Network Telethon for Hermann Children's Hospital, and in 1992 was named Outstanding Volunteer in Houston. She was a Guardian of the Texas Preservation Trust Fund, a member of Friends of Hermann Park and was named Woman of Distinction by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. John and Nellie were hosting President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie when they came to Texas in 1963. On that fateful day of November 22, Nellie played a particularly dramatic role as the Connallys rode in the presidential motorcade in the car in which President Kennedy was killed and Governor Connally was gravely wounded. Her presence of mind was credited with saving his life. Mrs. Connally was the last remaining survivor of that tragic event. After she returned to the Governor's Mansion from the hospital, she wrote her recollections of all that had occurred on the yellow pages of a legal pad, to be preserved for her grandchildren. She wrote a book based on the notes, entitled "From Love Field", reliving the trip and her personal experience in the car and the horrendous aftermath. She conducted a national tour to publicize her book that featured parties in Texas, New York and Washington, along with a host of media appearances, including The TODAY Show, Larry King Live, CBS Evening News and NBC Evening News. She donated her original notes and her blood-splattered dress from November 22 to the LBJ Library last year. She has continued to attract speaking invitations from across the nation. Nellie returned to her Austin birthplace last year, noting that "this is where I discovered America, and this is where I want to leave it." Mrs. Connally is survived by son John B. Connally, III and wife Diane of Houston, daughter Sharon Connally Ammann and husband Robert of Horseshoe Bay, and son Mark Madison Connally and wife Anne of Dallas. She also is survived by sister Sheba Stevens of Sherman, and brother Bob and Adele Brill of The Colony, Texas. Other survivors are eight grandchildren: Amy Ammann Pawelek and husband Craig, Tracy Ammann Waight and husband Justin, Robert Conrad Ammann, IV, and Chanda, Charles Conrad Ammann and fiancee Pepper, John Bowden Connally, IV, and partner Randy Fajkus, Nell Frances Connally, Kathleen Connally Love and husband Adam, and Mark Madison Connally, Jr. Great grandchildren survivors are Jake Pawelek, Max Pawelek, Connally Waight, Jackson Waight, Shane Chiaraluce, Peter Chiaraluce, Layne Ammann and Connally Kate Love. Pallbearers will be the grandchildren and grandchildren in-laws. Honorary pallbearers are George Christian (posthumously), Wayne Gibbens, Charles Hurwitz, Dee Kelly, Mike Myers, John Mobley, Julian Read, Howard Rose, Robert Strauss, Larry Temple and Oscar Wyatt. The family requests that memorials be directed to the Nellie Connally Breast Cancer Research Fund at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, Texas, 77030. Funeral arrangements are by Weed Corley Fish. Services will be held at 10 AM Wednesday, September 6 at First United Methodist Church, 1201 Lavaca, in Austin, followed by burial beside Governor Connally at the Texas State Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 PM Tuesday, September 5th at Weed Corley Fish Funeral Home at 3125 North Lamar in Austin,Texas.

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