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Former LBJ press secretary dies

AUSTIN, Texas, March 21 (UPI) -- Liz Carpenter, a sixth-generation Texan, activist and author who was Lyndon Johnson's press secretary, has died, officials say. She was 89.

Carpenter, who once described dying as "going to that great Democratic convention in the sky," died at University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin Saturday morning, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Sunday.

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Aside from being remembered for her ancestors, one of whom wrote the Texas Declaration of Independence, Carpenter was appreciated by those with whom she worked for women's rights, including Gloria Steinem.

"She has always been a touchstone -- the kind of original, irreplaceable friend about whom one thinks in good times and bad: 'What would Liz do?' or 'I wish Liz were here,' or 'I'm going to call Liz.' I don't want to think about a world in which she's not at the other end of the phone," Steinem said.

Carpenter was a Washington insider beginning in the 1930's as a journalist and was hired by then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson as his press secretary, the newspaper said.

She is the one credited for writing the words Johnson spoke after his hastened inauguration aboard Air Force One Nov. 22, 1963 after the Kennedy assassination.

"I can't really say I wrote it," Carpenter said in "Start With a Laugh," a book she wrote about speech writing. "God was my ghostwriter."

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