Mamie Eisenhower was the former First Lady
of the United States (1953-61), and wife of
President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
During the White House years, her chairmanship
of the American Heart Association's fundraising
efforts proved enormously successful. She's
credited with raising public awareness of heart
disease, substantially increasing donations and
bringing about a significant increase in the
number of AHA volunteers.
Biographical fast facts
Full, original or maiden name at birth: Mamie Geneva Doud *
Date, time and place of birth: November 14, 1896,
at 1:00 p.m., at 718 Carroll Street, Boone, Iowa, U.S.A. **
Date, time, place and cause of death: November 1, 1979,
at 1:35 a.m., Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington D.C. (Cardiac arrest/Stroke)
Spouse: Dwight Eisenhower (m. July 1, 1916 - March 28, 1969) (his death)
Wedding took place at 12 noon, in the first-floor
music room of the Doud family home at 750 Lafayette Street,
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. ***
Sons: Doud Dwight "Icky" Eisenhower (b. September 24, 1917,
Denver, Colorado - d. January 2, 1921, Camp Meade,
Maryland, of scarlet fever)
John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (b. August 3, 1922,
Denver, Colorado - present)
Siblings: Eleanor Carlson Doud (b. June 27, 1895 -
d. January 18, 1912, of heart failure)
Eda Mae Doud (b. December 23, 1900 - d. November 9, 1918)
Mabel Frances "Mike" Doud (b. October 6th, 1902 - d. October 15th, 1988)
Father: John Sheldon Doud (b. November 18, 1870 - d. June 23, 1951)
(owned a meatpacking business and also a livestock business)
Mother: Elvira Mathilde Carlson Doud (sometimes spelled
Elivera Mathilda Carlson Doud) (b. May 13, 1878, Boone,
Iowa - d. September 28, 1960, Denver, Colorado, of
complications from a stroke)
Burial site: Place of Meditation, Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas, U.S.A.
Error corrections or clarifications
* Contrary to many published reports, Mamie
was actually christened Mamie Geneva Doud, not
"Marie Geneva Doud," or "Mary Geneva Doud."
Mamie's own family has repeatedly addressed this issue
and quashed these rumors, but for some reason, this
erroneous data continues to resurface.
** Mamie Eisenhower was not born
at 709 Carroll Street on the grounds of the present-day
Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace Museum and Library.
In 1975, her birthplace home was moved from its original
location across the street at 718 Carroll Street, to its
present location at 709 Carroll Street.
*** A newspaper marriage announcement reversed the last
two digits of the Doud family's home address, erroneously
reporting Mamie married Lieutenant Eisenhower at "705 Lafayette"
in Denver, instead of the correct address of 750 Lafayette Street,
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Some final corrections and clarifications:
Doud Dwight Eisenhower's nickname was originally "Little Ike"
but it was changed within a few days of his birth to "Ikey"
then changed again to "Ikky" and was spelled that way
throughout his short life. Years later, "Icky" became the
preferred spelling, and even former President Eisenhower
began offering that spelling in his memoirs.
Some sources erroneously report John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower
died back in the 1960s. In fact, he lived decades
beyond that point, continuing to write, and even published
a new work of military history, Yanks: The Epic Story
of the American Army in World War I, in 2001.
All of the following publications, in some
past editions, have offered erroneous
birth data on Mamie Eisenhower
Grolier's The American Presidents
Americana Encyclopedia Annual
The Book of Presidents by Tim Taylor
It is not our intent to denigrate these fine
publications, but merely to point out the above inaccuracy
to prevent further circulation of the erroneous data.
Biography - Hobbies
Mamie was the second of four daughters born to a prominent
Denver businessman and his wife. As a child, she attended
Denver public schools, but when the Colorado winters became
too much for her mother, the Doud family began wintering in
San Antonio, Texas. Her education was thus divided between
the two cities, but was completed at a private Denver
finishing school for girls. Her older sister Eleanor had
a heart condition, and was in frail health most of her life.
Eleanor's death in 1912 cast a shadow over what had been a
relatively carefree childhood for Mamie.
While in San Antonio, Texas in October 1915, she met the man
who would become the center of her life, the liberator of
World War II Europe, and ultimately, the leader of the free
world. Dwight D. Eisenhower's courtship of young Mamie was
brief. They were formally engaged Valentine's Day 1916. The
couple had originally planned a November wedding, but
circumstances forced them to move the date up several months.
At 12 noon on July 1st, 1916, they were wed in the first-floor
music room of the Doud family home at 750 Lafayette Street,
Denver, Colorado. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend
William Williamson, visiting from Leicester, England.
The newlyweds set up housekeeping in Ike's bachelor
quarters at Fort Sam Houston. It would be the first of
more than thirty homes they would share, as necessitated
by his military and political career. She often moved
with Ike to various Army posts around the world as he
quickly worked his way up in the ranks. Conditions during
the early years were sometimes less than ideal. One good
example was their "home" in the Panama Canal Zone, which
leaked badly during the frequent torrential rains, and
was infested with bats. Mrs. Eisenhower, who had been raised
in prosperous surroundings, admitted that it was actually
Ike who taught her to cook. Military life necessitated a
change of mindset from her previous affluent upbringing.
She became a frugal shopper and continued her thrifty ways
long after her husband's pay made it unnecessary.
They had two sons, Doud Dwight Eisenhower, born September
24th, 1917, and John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, born August
3rd, 1922. Tragically, their first son died of scarlet
fever at the age of three. His death remained an open
wound from which the couple would never fully recover.
Though she tried to be by her husband's side as much as
possible, there were long stretches--especially during
World War II--when it was simply impossible. As one might
expect, she occasionally suffered from loneliness due to
long separations from her husband. Mamie saw even less of
him when he was named Supreme Commander of World War II
Allied Forces (1943-45). In the 1940s, she did a great
deal of volunteer work for the Red Cross and at an
Army canteen in Washington in support of U.S. servicemen.
Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, his duties as the
U.S. Army chief of staff (1945-48), continued to keep Ike
busy, and Mamie was sometimes still waiting at home for her
General to return. At least now, he wasn't half a world
away, as he'd been during the war.
It was during the period General Eisenhower served as
President of Columbia University (1948-53), that they
purchased a farmhouse at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It
was the first real home they owned together.
During her eight years as first lady of the United States
(1953-61), she and President Eisenhower entertained more
heads of state than any of their predecessors. Mrs. Eisenhower
was known for her short hairstyle, trademark bangs, and
her favorite color, pink. Not only were her outfits
frequently pink, but pink was a central color in the
decor of their private quarters at the White House.
Mamie suffered from Meniere's Disease, a disorder of the
inner ear. It caused her to suffer bouts of severe dizziness
that caused her to stumble at times. This resulted in false
rumors that she was an alcoholic based on her public stumbling.
Following two terms in the White House, they retired
to their Gettysburg farm. Mamie had overseen the major
reconstruction of the home, and they were finally able
to actually enjoy some quiet time alone. They traveled
extensively, Ike was able to really enjoy his golf,
and they were both doting grandparents.
Mamie's frugal disposition didn't change following the
White House years. The former first lady often did her
own grocery shopping after carefully studying the advertised
weekly specials. She could be seen pushing her cart down
the aisles, her coupons in hand, searching for the best
values. This, and the fact that she always insisted on
waiting her turn at the checkout line, further endeared
her to local residents, and illustrated her unpretentious
Ike's health worsened as the 1960s progressed. He died
March 28th, 1969, and Mamie followed him November 1st, 1979.
Mrs. Eisenhower played the piano, organ, enjoyed dancing,
sewing, and quite enjoyed playing cards. She was especially
fond of bridge, mahjong and canasta. Mamie planned all
aspects of state events at the White House during Ike's
two terms in office, and was active in fundraising
activities for several organizations and charities. She
was also instrumental in raising funds to establish a home
for Army widows who, at the time, received minimal benefits
from the government. Originally called the Army Distaff
Home, it was founded to provide affordable, secure retirement
housing and health care services for Army widows. Mamie
helped break ground for the facility which opened its
doors in 1962, and was named Knollwood.
The most in-depth of more than four dozen
sources consulted in preparing this
In Review, Pictures I've Kept, by Dwight D. Eisenhower (1969)
Mrs. Ike: Portrait of a Marriage, by Susan Eisenhower (2002)
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Soldier, President, Statesman, edited by Joann P. Krieg (1987)
Eisenhower: A Centennial Life, by Michael R. Beschloss (1990)
Eisenhower, by Stephen E. Ambrose (1990)
Dwight D. Eisenhower: A Man Called Ike, by Jean Darby (1989)
Ike and Mamie: The Story of the General and His Lady, by Lester and Irene David.
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