Kurt's Historic Sites

Eisenhower library

Mamie Eisenhower

Interment LocationVisited 
Abilene, KSAugust 12, 2009 

Photographed August 12, 2009.

As the wife of a member of the U.S. Army, Mamie Eisenhower was accustomed to relocating. In their half century of marriage — during which Dwight D. Eisenhower served as a military officer, college president, commander-in-chief, and civilian — Mamie uprooted with her husband to live in Texas, Maryland, the Panama Canal Zone, Europe, Asia, New York, Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and a host of other places. In one year of Dwight’s military tenure, he and Mamie packed up and shipped out seven times. Mamie Eisenhower’s final relocation came in 1979, when her remains were brought to the community of her husband’s youth: Abilene, Kansas. There she rests at Ike’s presidential library, in a non-denominational chapel called the Place of Meditation.

Not far into the Place of Meditation, visitors will find the travertine Eisenhower crypt. Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. president and supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War II, is interred on the left. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower is on the right. Their son Doud, whom they lost to scarlet fever at age three, is laid to rest with them, though he does not have a marble slab as his parents do. All three Eisenhowers are commemorated with plaques at the foot of the crypt, though, which include just their names, dates of birth, and dates of death.

Photographed August 12, 2009.
Photographed August 12, 2009.

Despite her influence on color palates and American consumerism in the 1950s, I did not see any “Mamie Pink” in the Place of Meditation. Its carpet is a dark blue hue. This contrasts with some of the couple’s accommodations when they were alive; when the Eisenhowers moved into the White House in 1953, their bedroom was decorated with patterns of pink flowers. Though not as prolific as her immediate successor — Jacqueline Kennedy — would be, Mamie Eisenhower focused much of her attention as first lady on White House decor and acquisitions.

I traveled to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in summer 2009, when I was 14 years old. During that visit my father goaded me into climbing over the railing so he could capture a better picture of me with the Eisenhowers’ lids than was possible had I remained outside the perimeter. I had trepidation someone would enter the Place of Meditation and either be offended or reprimand me, so I “bugged out” after just two pictures.

Photographed August 12, 2009.

Fast Facts

Born: November 14, 1896 in Boone, Iowa

Spouse: Dwight D. Eisenhower (m. 1916-1969)

First Lady Tenure: 1953-1961

Died: November 1, 1979 in Washington, D.C.

Cause of Death: Cardiac Arrest

Age: 82

Interment: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas

"[Mamie Eisenhower] believed it her responsibility to create a comfortable home and a gracious setting for the entertaining requisite to her husband’s position. Thus caring for the existing White House furnishings and acquiring beautiful and historic new objects for the house were part of her job as first lady."
- Melissa Naulin

2007 in the article "'Proud Housewife': Mamie Eisenhower Collects for the White House," published in White House History 21

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Naulin, Melissa. “‘Proud Housewife’: Mamie Eisenhower Collects for the White House.” White House Historical Association. Accessed April 2, 2022. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/proud-housewife-mamie-eisenhower-collects-for-the-white-house.

Rowe, Abbie, photographer. “The Eisenhowers’ Bedroom.” Photograph. Washington: National Park Service, 1953. From White House Historical Association. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/photos/the-eisenhowers-bedroom.

Smith, J.Y. “Mamie Eisenhower Dies at 82.” Washington Post, November 2, 1979. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1979/11/02/mamie-eisenhower-dies-at-82/133b3269-0d49-4444-b283-4da9af128aa2/.

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