The recent death of Barbara Bush made me curious as to who was the longest lived First Lady. That title goes to Bess Truman. Born in 1885 less than 20 years from the end of the Civil War, she died on October 18, 1982, at the age of 97. Very much a homebody, Bess Truman detested Washington and being First Lady. Her goal was simple as First Lady: to cease being First Lady and to return to Independence. In contrast to her immediate predecessor who talked to the press constantly, Truman held one press conference in which she gave written answers to pre-submitted questions. When asked if she would like to see her daughter as President she bluntly said no.
During the 1948 whistle stop campaign in which Harry Truman referred to her as “The Boss” when introducing her to crowds, Bess purportedly told him that if he introduced her one more time as “The Boss” she would leave the train and she would not care how fast it was traveling.
A woman who knew her own mind, she turned down Harry the first time he proposed in 1911 and they would not wed until 1919, Bess Truman strikes me as a refreshingly normal human being who held a position she disliked with grace out of love for her husband and her nation. Harry Truman idolized her, and, as usual, Harry Truman demonstrated his usual good common sense.