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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Margaret Truman has died at 83

Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of former President Harry S. Truman, has died at the age of 83. She succumbed at a Chicago assisted living facility following a brief illness. Ms.Truman was born Feb. 17, 1924, in Independence,Missouri. My mother, Betty Good, was born here in Fort Wayne, Indiana a mere 18 days prior.

Her father's succession to the presidency in 1945 thrust her into the national spotlight while a college junior.

"I feel that I've lived several different lives and that was one of them," she said in 1980. "Some of it was fun, but most of it was not. It was a great view of history being made. The only thing I ever missed about the White House was having a car and driver," she once said.

She went on to become a concert singer, actress, radio and TV personality and mystery writer. She found a fulfilling professional and personal life in New York City where she met her husband, journalist Clifton Daniel, who later became managing editor of The New York Times. They married in 1956.

She published her first book, an autobiography titled "Souvenir," in that same year. Although she said it was "hard work" and told reporters: "One writing job is enough", she went on to do a book on White House pets in 1969, and later more, one a biography of her father. The idea of doing a mystery called "Murder in the White House" came "out of nowhere," she said.

That 1980 title was followed by mysteries set in the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian, Embassy Row, the FBI, Georgetown, the CIA, Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral and the Pentagon. The last book, "Murder on K Street," was released last year. Donald Bain, a well-known ghost writer, was rumored to have written Truman's mysteries, but he has denied it.

Later in life, she was a grandmother and sang only in her church choir.

"I've had three or four different careers," she told an interviewer in 1989. "I consider being a wife and mother a career. I have great respect for women _ both those who go out and do their thing and those who stay at home. I think those who stay at home have a lot more courage than those who go out and get a job."

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