- The Washington Times - Friday, June 9, 2006

Eleanor Tydings Ditzen, 102, wife, mother of senators

BALTIMORE (AP) — Eleanor Davies Tydings Ditzen, who was the wife of one U.S. senator from Maryland and the mother of another, and counted among her friends presidents ranging from Woodrow Wilson to Bill Clinton, died June 6 of multiple organ failure at her home in the District. She was 102.

“She led a good life right up until the end and was still sharp as a tack. It’s a blessing. She wanted to go,” her son, former Sen. Joseph D. Tydings, told the Baltimore Sun.

Mrs. Ditzen, who was born in Wisconsin, spent her life immersed in politics.

Her father, Joseph M. Davies, was a corporate lawyer. After working for Woodrow Wilson’s election, he moved his family to Washington in 1913. Mrs. Ditzen would describe being bounced on Wilson’s knee.

In 1936, President Roosevelt named her father ambassador to Moscow. After her parents divorced, Mr. Davies married Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Mrs. Ditzen earned a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in 1925. She recalled the era in her 1997 memoir, “My Golden Spoon: Memoirs of a Capital Lady.”

“Skirts went up, necklines went down, and chaperones went out,” Mrs. Ditzen wrote. “At Vassar, it was the same thing. I remember dancing all night at Princeton, into the daylight.”

She was married for nine years to Thomas Patton Cheesborough Jr. After their divorce, she married Sen. Millard D. Tydings, a conservative Maryland Democrat considered one of Washington’s most eligible bachelors, in 1935.

They lived for years at Oakington, a Havre de Grace estate overlooking the Chesapeake Bay that is now an alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility.

Her husband served in the Senate from 1926 to 1950, when his opposition to the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy helped lead to his defeat by Republican John Marshall Butler. In 1956, he won his party’s nomination but withdrew because of illness. Mr. Tydings died in 1961.

In 1964, Mrs. Ditzen married the Rev. Lowell Russell Ditzen, a Presbyterian minister who died in 1987.

“Mother was a very political person. She loved politics, the people and enjoyed campaigning,” said her son, who was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1964 and served one term. “When I ran, we held Teas for Tydings across the state. We copied the idea from the Kennedys.”

Maryland’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes, told the Sun, “She was a grand lady who had a wonderful spirit and was gracious in every respect. Not only was she a political person, she was good at it.”

Despite a broken hip that had been repaired with three pins, Mrs. Ditzen danced on her 100th birthday at the Chevy Chase Club.

Also surviving are a daughter, Eleanor Tydings Schapiro of Monkton, Md.; eight grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

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