01 November 2012

Requiescat in Pace -- Letitia Baldrige

We received a somber, early morning call.   It was not about flooding, or weather, or a close friend, but news that Letitia Baldrige had died.  This is the kind of call we get.  It is important news at Lucindaville when such an arbiter of etiquette has departed this earth.

Her death leaves a gigantic void in a world that seems to be devoid of taste or decorum.  As Baldrige stated in 2007,  “Many people feel we’ve lost all sense of taste. Notoriety is what counts, and what sells. As far as excellence, half the people don’t even recognise it when they see it. ”

 Letitia Baldrige is perhaps best known for her tenure as the White House social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy. While much of the planning of the elaborate White House events were the result of Baldrige's meticulous attention to detail, she always made sure the First Lady received the credit.

While one might think that being such a doyenne of decorum might leave one beyond stuffy, Baldrige was always quick to counteract such claims.  She told the New York Times that after three years as social secretary to the United States ambassador to France, David Bruce and his wife, Evangeline she returned to America, "thoroughly obnoxious, a big blonde snob, really bad news.”   From her own mistake she taught each new social secretary,  “You are the visible face of the White House, president and first lady. You have to be kind to people.”

After a slight of a Pakistani ambassador she tried valiantly to apologize, finally waring him down with a bouquet of roses.   It became a mantra.  If you screw up -- send roses.  Today we are sending roses out to the memory of the incomparable  Letitia Baldrige.


  1. Oh heavens, may she rest in peace. Every citizen must tour the Nations House--the White House I have had the good fortune to have toured it with the safety Patrol of my child's elementary school. I wonder if they were impressed with all the fresh flowers I was told there are four florists on staff.

  2. My husband and I often lament the very thing mentioned here: the passing of civility.



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