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Idanell “Nellie” Brill Connally

Historical Figure, Author. Former Texas First Lady from 1963-1969. ¬†Wife of Governor John Connally. ¬†Last survivor of the car that carried President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. On November 22, 1963, it was Mrs. Connally that uttered the last words the president heard, “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you,” moments later those fateful shots rang out. ¬†Nellie Connally was born Idanell Brill in Austin, Texas ¬†one of five children born to Katie and Arno Brill. ¬†She had always aspired to be an actress. ¬†She even auditioned for the role of ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ in “Gone With the Wind.” ¬† In 1939 while at college she met her future husband John Connally. ¬†By the time the two married a year later her acting career took a backseat. ¬†She would be busy raising the couples for children and helping her husband with his political aspirations. ¬†She would do everything she could from raising money to answering phones. ¬†Her husband’s mentor was future U.S. president Lyndon Johnson. ¬†The Johnson’s and the Connally’s would remain forever friends, even though Nellie learned he was a man that could not be crossed. ¬†Once when answering phones for him she accidentally disconnected a line and Lyndon Johnson threw a book in her direction. ¬†She knew not to mess with him. Lady Bird Johnson However became a lifelong friend and someone she admired very much. ¬†Nellie was a vivacious lady full of spunk with a great sense of humor. ¬†She was a great asset to her husband’s campaign. ¬†In 1961 President Kennedy In 1961, President John F. Kennedy named John Connally Secretary of the Navy. ¬†He did not stay at his job instead he ran for Governor of the state of Texas. ¬†In 1963 he was elected Governor. ¬†It was in November when the President decided to stop campaigning. ¬†A tour of Texas was part of the tour. ¬†John Connally told his wife that if only the people can see him they would surely elect him once again. ¬†The Connally would accompany the Kennedy’s on their tour. ¬†On November 21 they went from Austin to San Antonio. ¬†November 22, 1963 they went to Fort Worth and on to Dallas. ¬†Everywhere they went Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Connally received a bouquet of roses. ¬†Later on she thought it was funny they had always received yellow or white, but on that day it was red. ¬†The motorcade was on that warm morning, and by days end the President was dead and the Governor was seriously wounded. ¬†After the second bullet hit her husband Nellie just stayed patiently holding the hole in his chest assuring him things would be just fine. ¬†She knew the President was already dead, and stayed focused on her husband. ¬†At the Hospital Jackie Kennedy and Nellie Connally sat next to each other silently waiting to hear the news of their husband’s fate. ¬†An attended came up to Nellie and told her they could not operate on her husband until she filled out paperwork. ¬†Years later Nellie would recall that if she had a gun she would have used it. ¬†She was put in a separate room to wait for word of her husband. ¬†The only visit she got was from Lady Bird Johnson with her arms stretched out ready to comfort her. ¬†She would learn her husband survived. ¬†She did not attend the funeral for the President, instead she sent her son John with a note for Mrs. Kennedy. ¬†Jackie Kennedy told her son that if anything good came out of this it was that his father had lived. ¬†The two never spoke again. ¬†Nellie Connally felt it was not fair that her John lived and Jackie’s did not. ¬†John Connally would go on to be Secretary of the treasury under Nixon, but his career ended when he was accused of taking a bribe. ¬†Nellie would face a battle with breast cancer that she would win. ¬†She would continue her volunteer work for charitable causes. ¬†In 1993 John Connally died. ¬†In 1994 Jacqueline Kennedy passed away at age 64 of cancer. ¬†Nellie Connally was the last survivor of that Lincoln limousine. ¬†Nellie Connally would always argue the fact that there was a second shooter on that faithful day. ¬†She would appear on interviews for the fortieth anniversary in 2003. ¬†She would tell everyone she met,” You can argue with the experts and the Warren commission, but you cannot argue with me, I was in the car. In 2003 she published her account of the day for the first time with the book, ‘From Love Field; Our Final hours with President John F. Kennedy.’ ¬†A very active person well into her eighties Mrs. Connally died peacfully in her sleep at age 87. (bio by: The Perplexed Historian) ¬†Family links: ¬†Spouse: ¬†John Bowden Connally (1917 – 1993)* ¬†Children: ¬†Kathleen Connally Hale (1943 – 1959)* *Calculated relationship


  • February, 24, 1919
  • USA


  • September, 09, 2006
  • USA


  • Texas State Cemetery
  • Texas
  • USA

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