George Eastland Christian

Portrait of George Eastland Christian Headstone Photograph


George Eastland
1927 - 2002

Jo Anne Martin

Back of headstone

Husband Father Native Austinite Journalist Marine

Executive Assistant and Press Secretary to
Texas Governor Price Daniel 1956 - 1962
Press Secretary to Texas Governor John B. Connally 1963 - 1966
Press Secretary to President Lyndon Baines Johnson 1966 - 1969
Texas Historical Commission 1979 - 1997
Texas State Cemetery Committee 1997 - 2002
Dedicated friend of the University of Texas
Full Name: George Eastland Christian
Location: Section:Republic Hill, Section 1 (C1)
Row:D  Number:18
Reason for Eligibility: Governor's Proclamation; Member and Chairman, Texas Historical Commission; Member, Texas State Cemetery Committee 
Birth Date: January 1, 1927 
Died: November 27, 2002 
Burial Date: December 2, 2002 

CHRISTIAN, GEORGE EASTLAND (1927~2002) George Eastland Christian, Jr. , a fifth-generation Texan, was born January 1, 1927, in Austin. He was that year's New Year's Baby of Travis County - a good luck omen that boded well for him from minute one. He graduated from Austin High School in 1944 and enlisted at 17 in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served as a rifleman in the Second Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force-Pacific, and was among the first troops to occupy atomic bomb-ravaged Nagasaki, Japan. After World War II, he attended the University of Texas on the G.I. Bill of Rights and became sports editor of the Daily Texan. His close association with U.T. continued thereafter. His professional career began with a seven-year stint as capitol correspondent for International News Service under bureau chief Bill Carter. He was recruited by Jake Pickle and Joe Greenhill in 1956 to work on the staff of U.S. Senator Price Daniel. After Daniel became governor, Christian was his press secretary and then chief of staff. He later joined Governor John Connally as press secretary, a post he served at the time Connally was wounded during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1966, Christian joined the White House staff, working with National Security Advisor Walt Rostow and then succeeding Bill Moyers as President Johnson's press secretary. He served three turbulent years at the White House during the height of the Cold War, the Arab- Israeli war of 1967, the Vietnam conflict, and some of the nation's most severe racial crises. After serving President Lyndon Baines Johnson from 1966 to 1969, Christian began a successful career as a public affairs and political consultant. He also volunteered a large part of his time to fundraising for the University of Texas, historical preservation projects, and many other causes. He remained active in all respects until his death. His friends have endowed a $500,000 professorship in his name at the College of Communication, and the U.T. administration endowed a similar professorship in British Studies bearing Jo Anne's name. He was chosen Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Communication, where he earned his journalism degree; member of the hall of Honor of the College of Natural Sciences; and in 1989 a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas. Recently he served a term as president of the Ex-Students Association. Christian was a life member of the McDonald Observatory Board and the College of Communication Advisory Council and former chairman of both. He also served on the board of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. In all of these capacities, he was an effective fundraiser for U.T. programs, especially the Hobby-Eberle telescope at McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. Christian was appointed to the Texas Historical Commission by Governor Dolph Briscoe and reappointed by Governors Mark White and Ann Richards, serving 18 years, including a term as chairman. Governor Rick Perry gave him the Governor's Award for Historic Preservation. He was also presented the Ruth Lester Award for "lifelong commitment to preserving Texas' unique heritage," and was given a lifetime achievement award by the Heritage Society of Austin. The Paramount Theater, Governor's Mansion, State Capitol, and recovery of LaSalle's ship, the Belle, were among the beneficiaries of his volunteer fundraising efforts. Governor Bill Clements appointed him to the first board of Friends of the Governor's Mansion and Governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry named him to the committee overseeing the historic State Cemetery. A prolific writer since his teens, Christian wrote hundreds of speeches for public officials, authored a book, "The President Steps Down," commissioned by Macmillan in 1969, and edited or contributed to a number of others, including "The World of Texas Politics" and "LBJ: The White House Years." He was guest columnist for the Dallas Morning News for many years and also wrote frequently for the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle. He was a frequent guest on television, news and history programs, both nationally and in Texas. Christian was vice chairman of both the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation and the Bob Bullock State Museum Foundation, was co-founder of the Headliners Foundation, and served on the board of Scott & White Memorial Hospital. He received the Harvey Penick Award for Excellence in the Game of Life from Caritas of Austin, the Stewardship of Texas Values Award from the Texas Lyceum, and the Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. In 1998, he was named Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference. Information taken from obituary, Austin American-Statesman, Friday, November 29, 2002.

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