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TribBlog: Liz Carpenter Leaves Us

The LBJ hand — she was the president's speechwriter, penning the famous 58 words he uttered after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and was Lady Bird's press secretary and chief of staff — died today at 89 after a long illness.

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The LBJ hand died today at 89 after a long illness. Liz was the president's speechwriter, penning the famous 58 words he uttered after the assassination of John F. Kennedy ("This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me, it is a deep personal tragedy. I know that the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help and God's"), and was Lady Bird's press secretary and chief of staff. She was so closely associated with the Johnson family that it's easy to forget she was a journalist first: The Salado native began her career covering FDR for the Austin American-Statesman.

I knew her for many years as one of the most dogged advocates you'd ever meet for, well, whatever she was advocating for at the time. Her phone calls would come at all hours of the day and night, and they would always start in the middle, as if we'd already been talking about the thing in question for hours and I knew perfectly well what she wanted me to do and how and when. In recent years, the sight of her in that scooter, tearing down an aisle to the front of an event where, naturally, crowds would part and chairs would disappear to make room for her in the first row, was something to behold.

Five years ago I brought a crew from Austin's public television station, KLRU, to her house in Westalke to interview her for Texas Monthly Talks. Funny to watch that video now, as she seems very much with us. I half-expect her to call me demanding that we re-air the show RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Rest in peace, Tiger.

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