Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lenore LaFount Romney

Lenore LaFount Romney (November 9, 1908–July 7, 1998) was the former First Lady of Michigan and later a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1970 from Michigan. Her husband, George Romney was the former Governor of Michigan, presidential candidate in 1968 and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Romney's youngest son, Mitt Romney was the former Governor of Massachusetts as well as U.S. presidential candidate in 2008 and again in 2012.

Romney was born Lenore LaFount in Logan, Utah, the daughter of Alma Luella (née Robison; 1882-1938) and Harold Arundel LaFount (1880-1952). Her father was born in Birmingham in England, and her mother, born in Montpelier, Idaho, was of colonial English ancestry.
In her junior year, Lenore LaFount and senior George W. Romney became high school sweethearts; she was from a more well-assimilated Mormon family.
After Calvin Coolidge appointed her father to serve on the Federal Radio Commission, LaFount moved to Washington with her family, followed by Romney. LaFount, who was an aspiring actress, had the opportunity to sign a $50,000, three-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, but Romney convinced her to return to Washington where he worked for Alcoa and the Aluminum Wares Association as a lobbyist. Lenore LaFount married George Romney on July 2, 1931 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They had four children, Lynn, Jane, G. Scott Romney, and politician Mitt Romney, who was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2002.
In Washington, Lenore's cultural refinement and hosting skills helped him in business, and the couple met the Hoovers, the Roosevelts, and other prominent Washington figures.
The couple later moved to Michigan, where George Romney worked as a nationally visible automobile executive. In 1954, Romney was named Chairman and CEO of the American Motors Corporation.

When her husband was elected Governor of Michigan in November 1962, Lenore became the state's first lady. After the 1968 presidential election, George Romney was named the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the administration of President Richard Nixon and the Romney family returned to Washington.
Mrs. Romney was an unsuccessful candidate for U. S. Senate in 1970. By early 1970, Nixon decided he wanted George Romney out of his administration. Nixon, who hated having to fire people and was, as Ehrlichman later described, "notoriously inadept" at it, instead hatched a plot to get Romney to run in the 1970 U.S. Senate race in Michigan. Lenore Romney ended up running instead. After winning a tight nominating contest against Robert Huber, a conservative state senator from Oakland County, Lenore Romney lost the general election to popular Incumbent Democrat Senator Philip A. Hart, who won re-election handily with 67% of the vote.
Lenore Romney died in Michigan and is interred in Fairview Cemetery in Brighton, Michigan, in the same grave as her husband.

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