The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation and The Society of Presidential Descendants partner to present “Presidential Families Weekend and Forum” February 18-20
The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation, in partnership with The Society of Presidential Descendants, is set to host a series of special events in celebration of Presidents’ Day Weekend, Saturday, February 18, through Monday, February 20, 2023, on the elegant tropical grounds of the Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West, Florida.
Centerpiece of the multi-day event is a Saturday, February 18, forum discussion among a gathering of distinguished presidential descendants on the topic of "Working Across the Aisle: American Bipartisanship.”
Moderated by Dr. Kurt Graham, director of Independence, Missouri’s federally operated Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, this year’s scheduled participating presidential descendants are: Susan Ford Bales, daughter of Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States; Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. President; Mary Jean Eisenhower, granddaughter of 34th U.S. President General Dwight D. Eisenhower; Massee McKinley, great-great grandson of 22nd and 24th U.S. President Grover Cleveland, and great-great nephew of 25th U.S. President William McKinley; and Patricia Taft, great-granddaughter of William Howard Taft, the 27th U.S. President.
Forum tickets are $40 each for Harry S. Truman Foundation members, $60 for non-members. The Forum begins at 4:30pm, with doors and cash bar opening at 4:00pm. Following the Forum, winners of the inaugural Monroe County student essay competition will be announced, after which attendees can mingle and enjoy cocktails on the lawn.
At 5:00pm Sunday, February 19 and Monday, February 20, Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of Harry S. Truman, will take the stage in a live performance of the acclaimed long-running stage production, “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!” Truman Daniel is the first direct descendant to portray a presidential ancestor in a production of this kind, and both a scheduled and a popular-demand encore performance of the one-man show sold out last year. Seating is arranged at 2-top and 4-top bistro tables: 2-tops are $80 for Society members, $120 for non-members; 4-tops are $160 for members, $240 for non-members.
On Monday, February 20, the Little White House grounds will provide the setting for a family-friendly Presidents’ Day cookout with hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hotdogs available for purchase. A cash bar will also be available, and attendees are welcome to bring a picnic blanket for the lunchtime event.
The annual “Presidential Families Weekend and Forum” is the largest Presidents’ Day Weekend gathering of presidential descendants in the country. Traditionally hosted solely by The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation, in 2022 the Foundation partnered for the first time with the recently founded Society of Presidential Descendants, a membership organization for individuals with direct lineage to one or more of the forty-six United States Presidents.
All events are to take place on the grounds of the Harry S. Truman Little White House, 111 Front Street, Key West, Florida. Other weekend offerings include guided tours of the Historic Little White House, self-guided botanical lawn tours, and ancillary cocktail parties. The “Presidential Families Weekend and Forum” is presented with the support of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. For tickets and information, visit www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.org. For questions, email Rachel the support of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.
About the Presidential Descendants Forum participants:
Dr. Kurt Graham, moderator of the 2023 Presidential Families Weekend Forum, is director of Independence, Missouri’s federally operated Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and author of the book “To Bring Law Home: The Federal Judiciary.” With extensive experience in the library/museum world, his background also includes serving as director of the McCracken Research Library at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, and as director of the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a Ph.D. in American History from Brown University, a B.A. and an M.A. from Brigham Young University in English and American Studies, and previously taught undergraduate and graduate courses in American political and legal/constitutional history at California State University, San Bernardino.
Susan Ford Bales, daughter of 38th U.S. President Gerald R. and Betty Ford, was raised in Alexandria, Virginia and studied photojournalism at the University of Kansas. She is recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees and author of two novels. Ms. Ford Bales is Ship’s Sponsor for the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and in 2016 was named an Honorary Naval Aviator by the United States Navy, becoming the first woman and 31st American to receive this distinction. Ms. Ford Bales lived in the White House while in High School and during her early college career, and following her mother Betty Ford’s surgery for breast cancer, served as official White House hostess. She and her mother helped to launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and she subsequently served as national breast cancer awareness spokesperson. Ms. Ford Bales served on the Betty Ford Center’s board of directors, first as a director, then as chairman, and currently serves on the board of directors for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. She is a founding member of The Society of Presidential Descendants, has been a Trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation since 1981 and currently is co-chair of the Foundation’s Programs Committee. In addition to numerous charitable and public service activities, Susan is Co-Trustee of the President Gerald R. Ford Historical Legacy Trust, Trustee of the Elizabeth B. Ford Charitable Trust, and the Honorary Advisory Committee of the Children’s National Medical Center.
Clifton Truman Daniel is the oldest grandson of President Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess. He is the son of author Margaret Truman and former New York Times Managing Editor E. Clifton Daniel Jr. Mr. Daniel is honorary chairman of the board of the Truman Library Institute, nonprofit partner of the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MO, and board secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. He was a founding member and currently serves as Vice President of the Society of Presidential Descendants. Author of “Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman” and “Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman’s Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943,” Clifton Truman Daniel is currently portraying his grandfather in the one-man stage show, Give ‘Em Hell Harry, as well as writing and lecturing on the Truman presidency.
Mary Jean Eisenhower is a granddaughter of 34th U.S. President General Dwight D. and Mamie Eisenhower. She was born in Washington, D.C. during Eisenhower’s first term in office, was christened in the Blue Room of the White House, and grew up in nearby Gettysburg, PA. She attended several schools in PA until her father, John Eisenhower, was named as US Ambassador to Belgium, where she lived with her family from 1969 through 1972. Ms. Eisenhower served as a Fellow at Stanford University and at The Churchill Foundation at Westminster College, and is president and chairman emeritus of People to People International. A global humanitarian, she has traveled to more than 75 countries, visiting demining teams and Peace Camps while supporting student and cultural programs. Mary Jean sits on the board of trustees for the Society of Presidential Descendants, holds three honorary doctorate degrees, and has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Knight of Peace Award from the International University in Assisi, Italy; the Medal of Honor from the Slovak Republic; The Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service; the Consular Corps Award of Excellence, and others.
Massee McKinley is the great-great grandson of 22nd and 24th U.S. President Grover Cleveland, and great-great nephew of 25th U.S. President William McKinley. He is a founding member and serves as vice president and chief of staff of The Society of Presidential Descendants. He holds an MBA from the Terry College of Business of the University of Georgia, and is the founding partner of Peerage Communications, LLC, an executive and political communications boutique consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Massee has written for the likes of Delta Airlines, The Coca-Cola Company, LVMH (Louis Vuitton), Hermès and Ferragamo, as well as for three former United States House Speakers.
Patricia Taft is an interior designer turned political and popular culture aficionado and pundit. Born into the Taft Political Dynasty, Patricia is the great granddaughter of 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of United States, William Howard Taft, and granddaughter of esteemed Senior Senator, Robert A. Taft Sr., affectionately referred to as Mr. Republican. Patricia, a fervid proponent of civics education and the preservation of the integrity of the U.S. Presidency, currently sits on the board of trustees for The Society of Presidential Descendants. Specifically, as a member of the board of directors for National First Ladies Day, Patricia holds immense passion for maintaining the important legacy of American First Ladies, such as her great grandmother, Helen Herron Taft. Annually, she looks forward to celebrating her great grandmother’s legacy and critical role in bringing Washington D.C.’s many cherry blossom trees into fruition through the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Currently, Patricia resides in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband, daughter, and French Bulldog, where she enjoys focusing on her affinity for all things past and present American culture through the development of her upcoming podcast and children’s book series.
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