President Truman's Obituary

[From page 1 of The New York Times, December 27, 1972]

[With grateful thanks to Michael Elsner for transcription!]


Funeral to Be Tomorrow In Independence Library

By B. Drummond Ayers Jr.
Special To The New York Times
    KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec 26 -- Harry S. Truman, the 33d President of the United States, died this morning. He was 88 years old.
     Mr. Truman, an outspoken and decisive Missouri Democrat who served in the White House from 1945 to 1953, succumbed at 7:50 A.M., central standard time, in Kansas City's Research Hospital and Medical Center.
     He had been a patient there for the last 22 days, struggling against lung congestion, heart irregularity, kidney blockages, failure of the digestive system and the afflictions of old age.
     In the more than seven years he was President, from the time Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death suddenly elevated him from the Vice Presidency until he himself was succeeded by Dwight David Eisenhower, Mr. Truman left a major mark as a world leader.
     He brought mankind face to face with the age of holocaust by ordering atomic bombs dropped on Japan, sent American troops into Korea to halt Communist aggession in Asia, helped contain Communism in Europe by forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and speeded the postwar recovery of Europe through the Marshall Plan.
     His domestic record was somewhat less dramatic, for his proposals were often premature. He ended up on the losing sides of fights other Presidents later won -- Federal health care, equal rights legislation, low income housing.
     His other legacies were perhaps less tangible but no less remembered -- the morning walk, the "Give 'em hell" campaign that nipped Thomas E. Dewey at the wire, the desk plaque that proclaimed "The Buck Stops Here!" and the word to the timid and indecisive "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
     Towards the end of his struggle for life, the former President weakened steadily. Early yesterday his doctors warned that death might come "within hours."
     When it came, the doctors announced that the cause was "a complexity of organic failures causing a collapse of the cardiovascular system."
     A state funeral will be held Thursday in nearby Independence, Mr. Truman's hometown, to mark his passing. Much of the ceremony will be subdued and private at the family's request.
     State funerals are conducted only for former commanders in chief, although the President can direct that a state funeral be held for an individual. Modifications in state funerals, which usually cover 4 or 5 days with considerable ceremony, are made at the request of the family, as in this case.
     President Nixon has declared the day of burial, Thursday, to be a day of national mourning. The American flag is to be flown at half-mast for thirty days.
     The former President's body will lie in state at the Truman Library in Independence from 1:35 P. M. tomorrow until 11 A. M. Thursday. Burial will follow on the Library grounds at a spot chosen by Mr. Truman himself.
     President Nixon will fly to Kansas City tomorrow afternoon, then go to the library to lie a wreath at the base of Mr. Truman's coffin. Although it was understood that the President's name was included on the official list of persons invited to attend the funeral, it was expected that, in keeping with the subdued and private nature of the ceremony, he would not stay overnight for the funeral service and burial.
     Tomorrow morning the coffin will be transported to the Library on a route that will pass the Victorian Truman home on the way from the Carson Funeral Home a few blocks away.
     The service, scheduled to begin at 2 P. M. Thursday, will be held in the Library's 250-seat auditorium. Attendance will be by invitation. Burial will follow immediately.
     A memorial service for Mr. Truman here will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington for Federal and foreign dignitaries. No date has been set, but the State Department said it would be within two weeks.

Mrs. Truman At Home

     The Truman family has asked, that in lieu of flowers, friends make donations to the Library or charities.
     At the time of his death, Mr. Truman's wife, Bess, 87, was at their home in Independence, having spent most of yesterday at the hospital. She was told of her husbands passing by his personal physician and long-time friend, Dr. Wallace Graham.
     Mr. Truman's only child, Mrs. Clifton Daniel of New York also was at the home. She flew to Kansas City last night for a brief visit with her father.
     Today, Mr. Daniel, an associate editor of the New York Times, was met at the Kansas City airport by his wife and Mrs. Truman. The four Daniel boys, Thomas Washington, 4; Harrison Gates, 7; William Wallace, 11, and Clifton Truman, 13 -- are to arrive tomorrow.
     The only other immediate Truman survivor is the former President's 83-year-old sister, Miss Mary Jane Truman, of Grandview, a town southeast of Kansas City. She has been a patient of Research Hospital since suffering a fall several weeks ago and was notified of her brothers death in a nearby room within minutes.
     The hospital announcement of Mr. Truman's death was released at 8:10 A. M by Wayne E. Conery, an assistant administrator. It was the 80th bulletin concerning the former President's illness and stated:
     "The Hon. Harry S. Truman, the 33d President of the United States, died at 7:50 A. M. at Research Hospital and Medical Center.
     "The cause of death has not been determined. Dr. Wallace Graham was present.
     "Mrs. Truman and Mrs. Clifton Daniel were notified at 7:52.
     "Funeral arrangements have not been finalized. It is the wish of the family that friends make donations to the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, Independence, Mo or the charities of their choice."

Eighth Illness

     Mr. Truman's final illness was the eighth to put him in Research Hospital. The others involved four cases of intestinal infection, a broken rib, a hernia and appendicitis.
     The final period of illness began in late November as a case of minor lung congestion. Doctors initially treated him at home.
     But they ordered him hospitalized on Dec. 5 when the congestion grew worse and his heart, already weakened by a long struggle with hardening of the arteries, began to beat irregularly under the strain.
     At the time he was admitted to Research, Mr. Truman's condition was termed "fair." The next night, however, he became critically ill when his blood pressure dropped to 80/60, his pulse soared to 120 beats a minute, his temperature rose to 102.83 degrees and his breathing became labored.
     But the former President fought back and was moved up to the "serious" list near the end of his first week of hospitalization. Asked how he felt, he told a doctor, "Better."
     A few days later, just as his heart and lung condition seemed to be stabilizing, his kidneys began to fail under the strain of prolonged illness. His condition was described as "very serious" as impurities began to appear in his blood.
     But again he fought back, telling his doctors near the end of his second week of hospitalization that he felt "all right," even though they had ruled out the use of a kidney machine because of his hardened arteries. Mrs. Daniel returned to New York.
     At that point, Mr. Truman's doctors began feeding him a special solution designed to reduce the impurities that were still building in his blood. There was an immediate reduction and a hospital bulletin reported:
     "President Truman is showing remarkable strength and tenacious physiological reactions which are a reflection of his attitudes of life. We believe that we have begun a favorable trend.
     But the trend was not to last.
     At daybreak of the 18th day of his hospitalization, Mr. Truman went through was doctor's called a "dangerous period" as his blood pressure dropped and his temperature rose.
     Mr. Truman's condition was changed from "very serious" to "critical" and his doctor's and nurse's began to monitor him almost constantly, particularly as his breathing became labored, his kidney output decreased, fluid built in his lungs and his heart began to flutter.
     On Christmas morning, the former President was so weak that that his doctor's said that death could come "within hours."
     Today, it finally came.
     The room in which the former President died is on the sixth floor of Research Hospital, a 500-bed facility he helped dedicate in 1963. Two red and green Christmas bells hang in the window, which looks east toward Independence and the recently completed baseball and football stadium of the Harry S. Truman sports complex.
     The room cost $59.50 a day. In Mr. Truman's case it was paid for by private medical insurance and Medicare. Long an advocate of Federal Health plans, Mr. Truman held Medicare card number 1. He had not been able to push such a plan through during his own presidency, but Lyndon B. Johnson was more successful and came to Independence in 1965 to sign the Medicare Act in the Truman Library, enrolling the former President as the first member.
     It was a final political victory for Harry S. Truman.

President's Proclamation

     Key Biscayne, Fla., Dec. 26 -- Following is the text of a proclamation by President Nixon on the death of former President Harry S. Truman:
The White House
By the President of the United States of America


To the people of the United States:

It is my sad duty to announce officially the death Harry S. Truman, 33d President of the United States, on December 26, 1972.

Throughout his long career in public service, Harry S. Truman was known as a man of forthrightness and integrity. He served with distinction in the United States Senate; and when the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt thrust him suddenly into the Presidency in April of 1945 at one of the most critical moments of our history, he met that moment with courage and vision. His farsighted leadership in the post-war era has helped ever since to preserve peace and freedom in the world. Confronted during his Presidency with a momentous series of challenges, his strength and spirit never wavered, and his faith in America never flagged.

President Truman had a deep respect for the office he held and for the people he served. He gave himself unstintingly to the duties of the Presidency while he held it, and in the years afterwards he honorably supported and wisely counseled each of his successors.

The nation to which he gave so much will honor his memory in admiration and respect, and the other countries for which he helped keep freedom alive will remember his name with gratitude.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States, in tribute to the memory of President Truman, and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the United States for a period of 30 days from the day of his death. I also direct that for the same length of time the Representatives of the United States in foreign countries shall make similar arrangements for the display of the flag at half-staff over their embassies, legations, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and stations. I hereby order that suitable honors be rendered by units of the armed forces under orders of the Secretary of Defense on the day of the funeral.

I do further appoint Thursday, Dec. 28, 1972, to be a national day of mourning throughout the United States. I recommend that the people assemble on that day in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President Truman and to seek God's continued blessing on our land and on this servant. I invite the people of the world who share our grief to join us in this solemn observance.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 26th day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-two and of the Independence of the United States of America the one-hundred and ninety-seventh.

Richard Nixon

By the President:
William P. Rogers
Secretary of State