First ladies' social secretary Letitia Baldridge dies at 86
WASHINGTON — Letitia Baldrige, who was social secretary to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and became known as a “doyenne of decorum” and chief arbiter of good manners in modern America, died Oct. 29 in Bethesda, Md. She was 86.
She had severe osteo-arthritis with cardiac complications, said Mary M. Mitchell, a collaborator of hers.
Baldrige worked as a consultant to first ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Patricia Nixon and Nancy Reagan.
The daughter of a Republican congressman from Nebraska, Baldrige began her career in the 1950s with the State Department.
She was sent to Europe, where under the formal title of social secretary, she was an adviser to David K.E. Bruce, the U.S. ambassador to France, and Clare Boothe Luce, the U.S. ambassador to Italy.
Before joining the Kennedy White House, Baldrige was the public relations director — and reportedly the first female executive — at Tiffany & Co., the world-renowned New York jewelers. She later founded and ran Letitia Baldrige Enterprises, a public relations and marketing firm, in Chicago, New York and Washington.
And since the late 1970s, she wrote more than a dozen volumes of memoirs and books on etiquette, notably her updated version of “The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette” (1978).
Baldrige left the White House in 1963. She returned to the White House within several months to help the first lady plan her husband's funeral.
Letitia Catherine Baldrige's father, Howard Malcolm Baldrige, served in the House of Representatives from 1931 to 1933. Her brother Malcolm Baldrige served as Commerce secretary during the Reagan administration
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.