Bess Clements Abell
Born – June 2, 1933
Died – October 9, 2020
Memorial service – May 1, 2021
I met and spent considerable time with Bess Abell when she became Chief of Staff to Joan Mondale when Joan was second lady of the United States. She shared her vast experience with Joan and the rest of us. She helped Joan develop her long-standing interest with the arts. It was with Bess’s help and advice that she became known as “Joan of Arts.”
Bess rose to prominence as Social Secretary to Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.
Among the speakers at her memorial service were Lynda Bird and Luci Baines, the daughters of President Johnson, and Ann Stock, Social Secretary to President Clinton.
The following is a quote from Lady Bird Johnson in 1976.
“Bess had the right blend of quiet competence and aggressive persistence and creative talents – the last in marked degree. She could always get me to do a lot of work and yet she went about it very quietly and calmly. She could take no for an answer, but not without making several other attempts to get ‘yes’.”