Publisher’s note: Nellie Connally passed away in September, 2006. This amazing lady was an insitution and her caring, compassionate and loving spirit lives on through her family and friends.
Idanell (Nellie) B. Connally was born in Austin, Texas on February 24, 1919. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arno Brill, were a pioneer Texas family.
The former Idannell Brill was the recipient of numerous honors as a University of Texas student, including Sweetheart of the University in 1938, the same year that her husband-to-be was voted president of the student body. She and John are the first married couple ever to be honored separately as Distinguished Alumni of U.T., with individual recognition ten years apart. Nellie and John were married in Austin’s First Methodist Church on December 21, 1949, the same church in which Governor Connally’s funeral service was conducted on June 17, 1993. During their 53-year marriage, Nellie and her husband traveled together to more than 60 countries.
Nellie Connally served as First Lady of Texas from 1963 through 1968 during the administration of her late husband, Governor John B. Connally, Jr.
During her tenure in the Governor’s Mansion, Nellie was responsible for the planning and creation of its present day gardens and received the first Ruth Lester Award for her work. She also was instrumental in the development of the state’s first Travel Trails by the Texas Tourist Development Agency.
Nellie is a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and is active in many community and charity activities, including service with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Nellie B. Connally Breast Cancer Center and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. For three years, she served as Honorary Chair of the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon for Hermann Children’s Hospital, and in 1992 was named Outstanding Volunteer in Houston. She is a Guardian at the Texas Preservation Trust Fund, a member of Friends of Hermann Park and was named Woman of Distinction by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. She was instrumental in helping complete Tranquility Park in downtown Houston.
She conducted a national media tour in connection with the publishing of her late husband’s autobiography, titled, “In History’s Shadow.”
John and Nellie were hosting the Kennedys when they came to Texas in 1963. They were in the car when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Governor Connally was gravely wounded. Nellie is now the only living survivor of this tragic event in history. She has written a book entitled “From Love Field” reliving the trip and what happened in the car on that historical moment the world will never forget.
Nellie is the mother of four children: Kathleen Connally, deceased; John B. Connally, III, Houston; Sharon Connally Ammann, Fredericksburg; Mark Madison Connally, Houston. She also has 8 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.