AP NEWS
Related topics

Former White House seamstress Lillian Parks dies at 100

November 12, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Lillian Adele Rogers Parks, a former White House maid and seamstress who in her retirement wrote three behind-the-scenes books, died Nov. 6 of a heart attack. She was 100.

Mrs. Parks officially served on the White House staff as a seamstress during the Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations, mending linens and making draperies and window curtains.

Her White House experience, however, dated back to the Taft administration, when she helped her mother, a maid. During the Wilson, Harding and Coolidge administrations, she also took in sewing jobs and did temporary work at social functions.

Mrs. Parks joined the White House staff full-time in 1929; she retired in 1960, the last year of Eisenhower’s presidency.

She recounted te foibles, idiosyncrasies and day-to-day routines of the presidents and their families in a 1961 book, ``My 30 Years Backstairs at the White House.″

Franklin Roosevelt was a penny pincher, Herbert Hoover did not like servants to be seen or heard, but Harry Truman insisted the help ``be at ease,″ she wrote. She said President Eisenhower made no effort to remember the names of his domestic staff and had a temper that kept his wife in constant fear of inappropriate outbursts.

Mrs. Parks was stricken with polio at age 6. The disease withered her left leg to the size of a forearm _ she got around on a pair of crutches _ and helped her develop a special rapport with President Roosevelt, who had been paralyzed by polio.

Mrs. Parks wrote two more books of reminiscences, ``It Was Fun Working at the White House″ and ``The Roosevelts: A Family In Turmoil,″ but neither had the success or popularity of her first book.

Her marriage to Carlton Parks ended in divorce. She has no immediate survivors.

AP RADIO
Update hourly