Skip to comments.Ex-Ala. first lady Wallace dies at 69
Posted on 01/10/2009 11:39:33 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
MONTGOMERY, Ala. Former Alabama first lady Cornelia Wallace, who threw herself over Gov. George C. Wallace when he was shot in a 1972 assassination attempt, has died in Sebring, Fla. She was 69.
Wallace's cousin, Melissa Boyen, said the former first lady died Thursday from cancer.
Cornelia Wallace was the niece of two-term Gov. James E. "Big Jim" Folsom. The dark-haired beauty, known simply as "C'nelia," married George Wallace on Jan. 4, 1971 just days before he began his second term as governor. It was the second marriage for both.
The union marked a merger between Alabama's two most famous political families and surprised some because George Wallace had defeated Jim Folsom in the 1962 race for governor and the relationship between the two governors had been strained since then.
Born in Elba on Jan. 28, 1939, to Charles and Rubie Ellis, Cornelia Wallace was a socially active first lady known for her lively personality. But for many, the most lasting memory of her occurred on May 15, 1972.
She was accompanying her husband on the Democratic campaign trial for president when Arthur Bremer shot him four times at a campaign rally in Laurel, Md. A news camera captured photos of Cornelia Wallace throwing herself over her husband's body to shield him as he lay bleeding in a shopping center parking lot.
"She's etched in Alabamians' memory because of the tragedy of that," said Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.
William Stewart, a longtime political scientist at the University of Alabama, said he remains impressed by her bravery during the shooting and her loyalty to her husband during his long recovery from the wounds that left his legs paralyzed.
Turnham recalled that as first lady, she urged Alabamians to plant vegetable gardens to be more self-reliant.
(Excerpt) Read more at nashuatelegraph.com ...
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