At least I didn’t know them until this morning.
I was curious about why Gingrich’s first wife’s name was omitted from many news reports about his marriages this week. I thought she died of cancer.
I always thought it was curious that Gingrich would ask his wife for a divorce while she was “in the hospital on her dealth bed,” as legend has it. Why wouldn’t he just wait for her to die? Then he could be a widower rather than a grossly insensitive cad.
Turns out that the first Mrs. Gingrich is still alive. Also turns out that the famous death bed request for a divorce never happened. Newt filed for divorce in July of 1980. The hospital conversation happened in September, 1980 when the Mrs. was recovering from surgery for a non-life threatening benign tumor. Mrs. Gingrich had been battling cancer since 1978. Source: FactCheck.org
The first Mrs. Gingrich is Jackie Battley. She was Newt’s high school geometry teacher. They dated secretly until they wed on June 19, 1962. The 19 year old Newt was at student at Emory University in Atlanta. Jackie was 26. Source: About.com
The other thing I didn’t know about Gingrich is that he had a different last name as a child. He was born Newton Leroy McPherson to his 16 year old mother, Kathleen, and his 19 year old father, Newton Searles McPherson. The McPherson’s marriage ended shortly after young Newton’s birth. Kathleen married Army officer Robert Gingrich a year later. Gingrich adopted Newt and gave him his name.
Robert rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Army. He served in Korea and Viet Nam. He also served in Germany and France, where Newt lived with him. Source: Wikipedia
If Gingrich wins the GOP nomination, America will be choosing a president between two products of broken homes who had different names in their youth and spent significant portions of the childhoods overseas.