As Army wife and then first lady, the role of Mamie Eisenhower stayed the same: take care of the homefront so her husband, General Dwight Eisenhower, could give his best to his job.
Mamie Doud was born in Boone, Iowa on November 14, 1896 and moved to Denver with her family 8 years later. The affluent Douds vacationed every winter in San Antonio, which is where Mamie met Dwight Eisenhower in 1915. Their wedding took place at the Doud mansion in Denver on July 1, 1916, which was the same day Eisenhower became a first lieutenant. Throughout their 50-plus years of marriage, she told friends that she realized from the start that Ike would be a great soldier because nothing, even family, came before his military duties. In her mind, her role was to ease his burden by taking charge of personal family decisions so that he could conduct his career. She was a great soldier's wife, moving frequently as his orders sent him around the world, and enduring long separations with few complaints. She raised their two sons, Doud Dwight, known as "Icky," who was born in 1917 and died of scarlet fever in 1921, and John, who was born in 1922. John's son, David, later married Julie Nixon, the daughter of President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat. Eisenhower named the presidential retreat Camp David after his grandson.
When World War II ended in 1945, Eisenhower was America's most popular war hero. Republicans wanted him to be their candidate for president in 1952. Mamie hated to give up their privacy but she refrained from giving him any advice. Instead she told him her job would remain the same as always, which was to take care of him and their home, wherever it was.
By the 1950s air travel was much more common, and the Eisenhowers entertained more heads of state and leaders of foreign governments than any other president and first lady ever had. As an Army wife, she understood the division of responsibility and was excellent at directing the White House staff. While she was strict and demanding, she also lavished praise on the staff when it was earned. Therefore, dinners and receptions were well orchestrated. She obviously enjoyed her role as first lady, and this made her guests feel welcome. But the Eisenhowers disappointed many in the Washington social scene because they preferred quiet evenings at home rather than being seen on the cocktail party circuit. While in the White House, she maintained her usual role of running the house and rarely discussed politics with her husband.
At the end of Eisenhower's presidency they retired to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to a "dream house" she designed. For eight contented years Ike painted, fished, and wrote his memoirs while she kept house. He died in 1969 and she died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.