March 16, 2025

Patricia “Pat” Ryan Nixon

March 16, 1912

Patricia NixonPatricia “Pat” Nixon—Born March 16, 1912 (Ely, NV). Died June 22, 1993 (Park Ridge, NJ).

White House Years: 1969-1974

  • Pat Nixon’s birth name was Thelma Catherine but her Irish father called her Patricia “Pat” because of her birth near St. Patrick’s Day.
  • First Lady Pat Nixon assumed a role of leadership at just 13 when her mother passed away, and she maintained the house while her two older brothers and father worked.
  • After the loss of her father at age 18, she worked two part-time jobs to pay for college first at Fullerton College and later at the University of Southern California, from which she graduated in 1937.
  • Pat Nixon met Richard Nixon when they were both cast in a play from the Little Theater group, and they married in 1940.
  • When she became first lady, Pat Nixon emphasized volunteer service. She was one of the most well-traveled first ladies visiting a total of 80 countries. She took a solo trip to Peru to assist with earthquake relief, and she was a diplomat on behalf of the president to Africa.
  • She made the White House accessible for visitors and expanded White House collections.
  • During the Watergate scandal, Pat Nixon supported her husband, faithfully sticking by his side despite the criticism he received.


  • Pat Nixon was the first first lady to enter a combat zone.
  • Pat Nixon was the first first lady to travel to Africa, China, and the Soviet Union.
  • Pat Nixon was the first first lady to wear slacks in public.


  • Being first lady is the hardest unpaid job in the world.”

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