“Letters to Jackie” Has Strong Texas Connection

March 18, 2010

Last Sunday morning, prominent Austinite Jane Louis was the impressive lead interview in a CNN news feature regarding letters she wrote as an 11-year-old youngster to First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the wake of the President’s assassination in 1963.  The program focused on the new book “Letters to Jackie,” a compilation of  250 of 800,000 such condolence messages received at the White House.  Jane wrote once a week for six months. Her youthful compassion was to foreshadow a lifetime calling.  An angel-on-earth Episcopal Seminary graduate, she has followed a mission of caring, counseling and comforting families in times of grief, including my own. Her special talent  for blending uplifting humor with sorrow at memorial services is legendary. In a happier realm, she also officiates very selected weddings.

 There is yet another strong Texas condolence link to that tragic time. Then-Governor John B. Connally, Jr. was critically wounded  when President Kennedy was killed and lay in Dallas Parkland Hospital at the time of the funeral. So John B. Connally, III represented the family at the service. In doing so, he  presented a handwritten note from his parents to Mrs. Kennedy.  And Nellie Connally has told the story of how she took  John’s hand in both of hers  and responded warmly to the gesture. “And right then, that young man fell in love with Jackie”, she said.  Mrs. Kennedy replied later with her own never-published personal note to Mrs. Connally.

–Julian Read

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