Judy Agnew

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Judy Agnew
Mrs. Agnew.tif
Second Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 1969 – October 10, 1973
Vice PresidentSpiro Agnew
Preceded byMuriel Humphrey
Succeeded byBetty Ford (Dec. 1973)
First Lady of Maryland
In role
January 25, 1967 – January 7, 1969
GovernorSpiro Agnew
Preceded byHelen Gibson
Succeeded byBarbara Mandel
Personal details
Elinor Isabel Judefind

(1921-04-23)April 23, 1921
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
DiedJune 20, 2012(2012-06-20) (aged 91)
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Resting placeDulaney Valley Memorial Gardens
Political partyRepublican
Spiro T. Agnew
(m. 1942; died 1996)

Elinor Isabel "Judy" Judefind Agnew (April 23, 1921 – June 20, 2012) was the Second Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1973. She was the wife of the 39th Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew, who previously served as Governor of Maryland and Baltimore County Executive.

Early life[edit]

Born Elinor Isabel Judefind in Baltimore, Maryland,[1] to parents of French-German descent,[2] Agnew was daughter of William Lee Judefind, a chemist, and his wife, the former Ruth Elinor Schafer.[3] Her paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister.

Agnew confessed in an interview with Parade magazine that her father had believed college education to be wasted on women, so in lieu of attending college, Agnew worked as a filing clerk.[3] While working at the Maryland Casualty Company, she met Theodore Agnew, whom she called "Spiro".[3] They went to a movie on their first date together, and bought chocolate milkshakes afterward.[3]

Marriage to Spiro Agnew[edit]

She married Agnew on May 27, 1942, in Baltimore; he had graduated from Army Officer Candidate School two days earlier. They had four children: Pamela Lee Agnew (Mrs. Robert E. DeHaven), James Rand Agnew, Susan Scott Agnew (Mrs. Colin Neilson Macindoe), and Elinor Kimberly Agnew.[4]

While living in Annapolis with her husband and their four children, Agnew served as the president of her local PTA, and volunteered as both an assistant Girl Scout troop leader[3] and a board member of the Kiwanis Club women's auxiliary.[5] When speaking to the press, Agnew spoke in what she called a "Baltimorese" accent.[3] She became known by the local press for serving cocktails in glass peanut butter jars,[5] although she once publicly attempted to refute this claim.[3] She was the First Lady of Maryland from January 1967 to January 1969.

Second Lady of the United States[edit]

Reportedly, Agnew's reaction to Richard Nixon naming her husband as his running mate was a tearful, "can you get out of it?"[6] When asked by the press what she thought of her husband's new position, she told several publications that she was "just trying to keep the ashtrays clean."[6][2][3]

In 1969, Agnew hosted a dinner at the White House for seventy-five female reporters. Her husband played piano for the guests and left before the meal was served.[3]

Agnew preferred to avoid political conversations in the press while serving as Second Lady.[2] In 1967, Agnew told The Evening Sun, "I'll still make brief remarks, at luncheons and teas and so on, but I'm not a speech maker. I'm not a real campaigner."[2] In 1970, she told Parade magazine, "I stay out of the political end of it. When people ask what I majored in, I proudly tell them ‘I majored in marriage.’"[3] However, Agnew did make several political statements while her husband was in office. In 1971, she was quoted as calling feminists "silly," stating that she was already liberated.[2] McCall's magazine published a letter from a feminist reader in response to Agnew's comments, saying she had "set Women’s Lib back a hundred years".[3]

Agnew also told The New York Times that she had "no use" for hippies, although she admitted that she didn't know any.[3]

In 1973, Spiro Agnew resigned from his position as Vice President of the United States, pleading nolo contendere to charges of income tax evasion.[3] Agnew was charged with having reported a joint income of $26,099 for both him and his wife in 1967, although their correct income had been $55,599.[6] On the day of her husband's resignation, Agnew broke down at a luncheon and cried among her guests.[2]

Agnew died on June 20, 2012, in Rancho Mirage, California, aged 91.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Judy Agnew, Wife of Vice President, Dies at 91". The New York Times, June 27, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Frederick N. Ramussen (28 June 2012). "Judy Agnew, vice president's wife and Md. first lady". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 29 October 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Douglas Martin (27 June 2012). "Judy Agnew, Wife of Vice President, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Nation: Running Mate's Mate". Time. August 23, 1968. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Bart Barnes (28 June 2012). "Judy Agnew, wife of vice president, dies at 91". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Jules Witcover (2007). Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. PublicAffairs Publishing. p. 59. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Helen Gibson
First Lady of Maryland
Succeeded by
Barbara Mandel
Preceded by
Muriel Humphrey
Second Lady of the United States
Title next held by
Betty Ford