Jim Zeigler hosts tribute to Lurleen Wallace; continues fight to put portrait back in Rotunda

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Monday marks the the 50th anniversary of the of death in-office of Alabama’s first female governor, Gov. Lurleen Wallace, the wife of her predecessor and notorious fellow Gov. George Wallace.

Elected in 1966 after defeating a large field without a runoff, she served from January 1967 until her death May 7, 1968.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler has planned a commemoration, at no expense to taxpayers, for Monday at 1:15 p.m. to honor her. The 30-minute ceremony will be attended by members of the Wallace family.

“[I was] shocked to learn that no one had planned a ceremony on the 50th anniversary of Gov. Lurleen Wallace’s death, so my office and I stepped up and put one together. We must never forget,” said Zeigler.

For nearly three years the state auditor has been on a mission to return the portrait of Wallace to the capitol rotunda.

Her portrait, along with her husband’s, was removed from the rotunda in January 2015 by then-Gov. Robert Bentley in a move the auditor called re-write to Alabama’s history.

To this day, Zeigler blames Bentley for their “premature” removal.

“The mistreatment of the Lurleen Wallace portrait by the Bentley administration was a shameful example of historical revision,” Zeigler said. “With no notice, officials of the Bentley administration hurriedly removed the two Wallace portraits from the capitol rotunda.  In their place, they erected a new portrait of Gov. Robert Bentley, in the final days of his first term.

Shortly after she assumed office, Zeigler asked Gov. Kay Ivey in May 2017, to restore the portraits to the rotunda.

“The Alabama Legislature passed joint resolutions in 1983 mandating that the Wallace portraits remain in the rotunda in perpetuity. It was clearly the legislative intent that this be done,” Zeigler wrote Ivey. “Your action in restoring the Wallace portraits to their rightful place would be a bold statement that we in Alabama respect our heritage and reject historical revision.”