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Former First Lady visits McLean Historical Society meeting

Phyllis Verhalen portrayed Edith Wilson, who played a key role while her husband was incapacitated
Phyllis Verhalen portrayed First Lady Edith Wilson during a presentation at the McLean Historical Society

A woman who helped steer the ship of state during her husband’s incapacitation visited with the McLean Historical Society at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Phyllis Verhalen portrayed First Lady Edith Wilson, the wife of President Woodrow Wilson, at the event, discussing her life and role during the final years of her husband’s presidency.

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was the second wife of Woodrow Wilson from their marriage in 1915 until his death in 1924. Both Virginia natives, they kindled a romance after the deaths of their respective spouses.

After Woodrow Wilson was impacted by a stroke in the last years of his second term, Edith Wilson pre-screened all matters of state and determined access to the president.

Edith Wilson died in late 1961, the same week as a new bridge named for her husband opened across the Potomac River. The date of her death, Dec. 28, also was the date of her husband’s birth (in 1856).