Public affairs community mourns loss of Christian

AUSTIN, TX: Public affairs elder statesman and former Presidential press secretary George Christian lost a long battle with lung cancer the day before Thanksgiving.

AUSTIN, TX: Public affairs elder statesman and former Presidential press secretary George Christian lost a long battle with lung cancer the day before Thanksgiving.

Christian served as President Lyndon B. Johnson's press secretary during the tumultuous late 1960s. When Johnson left office, Christian founded his own public affairs consultancy in Austin, serving political candidates and corporate clients such as Shell Oil, Eli Lilly, and TXU. Before his White House stint, Christian worked for two Texas governors including John Connally, who he was serving as press secretary when Connally was shot during President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

"The Johnson family has had many a crisis all made better because of George's wisdom, judgment, humor, and patience," the late President's family said in a written statement.

Christian chose to stop chemotherapy last December and enjoyed relatively good health until the last few weeks of his life, friends said. In his last year, he traveled to Europe with his wife Jo Anne, and was feted with a gala 75th birthday party in January. "He had the opportunity to experience all the accolades of his friends and admirers while he was here to enjoy it," said Julian Read, chairman of GCI Read Poland.

The crowd of more than 800 attending Christian's funeral included former White House colleagues Bill Moyers and Liz Carpenter, four current and past Texas governors, and former Bush counselor Karen Hughes.

"I think he had a greater impact on the public affairs of Texas in the 20th century than any non-elected official, and a greater impact than most elected officials," said Larry Temple, a Johnson-administration special counsel who delivered Christian's eulogy.

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