Governor Strickland's wife will study causes
For now, Frances Strickland said her goal is to keep her husband close to Ohioans.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Taking advice from her predecessors, Ohio's new first lady said she'll take some time to ease into her new role before injecting herself into public causes.
Frances Strickland, who once dreamed of becoming a musician, said she's considering being an advocate for music and arts education. But former first ladies encouraged her not to rush into causes too soon, saying she'll need time to adjust. Her tenure begins when Gov.-elect Ted Strickland takes the oath of office early today.
Outgoing first lady Hope Taft served on numerous commissions fighting against drug and alcohol use and underage drinking during her husband's time in office.
"Ted and I both have to be open to new ideas, fresh thinking, out-of-the-box thinking anywhere we can find it in order to help Ohio move forward," Strickland, 65, said. "I feel like I can do that better by being receptive to whatever is there and not just to one or two issues.
"Overall, I kind of have a goal to keep Ted close to the people and the people close to Ted, whatever way it takes to make that happen."
Strickland grew up on a dairy farm in rural Kentucky. The second of four children in a Democratic, Methodist family, she helped pick up hay on the farm and did chores around the house with her two brothers and a sister.
Strickland chose to attend Murray State University in Kentucky because it had a good music college.
"I secretly wanted to get into music, but I never told anybody and they never discovered me, so I went into teaching instead," said Strickland, who earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education. She later earned a master's degree in guidance counseling from the University of Colorado and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Kentucky, where she met her future husband in 1974.
They shared a closet-size office as graduate assistants. She was attracted to him in part because they shared the same Methodist values, she said.
The two stayed in touch after she went to work in the Kentucky public schools as an educational psychologist and he returned to his native Ohio. They married in 1987.
"We knew that we mattered in each other's lives," she said.
Strickland said she's looking forward to the next chapter.
Former first lady Dagmar Celeste, the former wife of Richard Celeste, the last Democrat to serve as Ohio governor, asked Strickland if she plans to produce a cookbook.
"I said, no, it's pretty well out there that I don't cook, so I don't think I could make a cookbook fly unless it's '50 Different Ways to Fix Grits,'" she joked.