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Famous LBJ Stetson now on display at Texas State University in San Marcos

Johnson in his Stetson cowboy hat
Courtesy photo
LBJ Library and Museum
Johnson in his Stetson cowboy hat

A Stetson cowboy hat once worn by Lyndon Baines Johnson has been donated to his alma mater university, Texas State in San Marcos.

The future 36th president of the United States graduated in 1930 with a Bachelor in Science in History with a teaching certificate from what was then known as Southwest Texas Teachers College. It's the only university in Texas to have graduated a president of the U.S.

The Stetson Open Road Royal Deluxe Silverbelly hat can now be seen in the LBJ Student Center. It was donated by longtime Texas political consultant Kevin Moomaw who received it from former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who told Moomaw to find an appropriate home for it.

“It is an honor for us to receive this Stetson that belonged to President Johnson — our most distinguished alumnus,” said Brooks Hull, vice president for university advancement. “We are grateful to Kevin Moomaw and former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for entrusting Texas State with this piece of Texas history.”

Johnson was a client of San Antonio-based Paris Hatters, which continues to do business today.

The hat was part of Johnson's signature look, especially when he was at the Western White House at the LBJ Ranch at Stonewall, little more than an hour's drive north of San Antonio. The ranch is now a state and national historical park. Johnson lived out his days there after serving as president and is buried there along with former First Lady Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson in a family plot.

Johnson, a former congressman, senator and Senate whip and then Senate majority leader, served as vice president under John F. Kennedy until Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Johnson served as president from 1963 until seeing Richard Nixon sworn-in to replace him in January 1969. Johnson had opted not to run for another term as president as the Vietnam War and civil unrest raged in the nation.

As president, Johnson returned to San Marcos to speak at important community and campus events on several occasions, according to a university news release.

He established the Gary Job Corps in San Marcos, transferred the Federal Fish Hatchery property to the university and signed the Higher Education Act of 1965 on the campus.

In 1982, the university launched the LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series to honor Johnson’s legacy by inviting guest lecturers to speak at his alma mater.

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