Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
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Expert on first ladies returning to Fremont

C-SPAN series producer to visit Hayes center

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FREMONT — In the past three years Andy Och has become an encyclopedia of knowledge about the U.S. first ladies.

He’s read hand-written letters, interviewed relatives, looked through Barbara Bush’s family scrapbook, and went through museums’ back rooms. Mr. Och uncovered so many stories he couldn’t fit them all into 35 television programs he worked on for the C-SPAN cable television channel's idea and creation. So he’s traveling around the country holding talks to tell people about his interesting stories. Mr. Och says he was very fortunate to be along the ride for the C-SPAN idea.

In the spring of 2013, Mr. Och visited the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont to learn as much as he could about First Lady Lucy Hayes. At 2 p.m. Sunday he’ll be back to hold an interactive presentation with a question-and-answer session.

“They become real women who can love, lose, and play games,” Mr. Och said of these powerful women’s stories. “Bill and Hillary Clinton used to play Clue and Scrabble. They become real people.”

C-SPAN broadcast the series of 90-minute shows, First Ladies: Influence & Imagine, from Presidents’ Day 2013 to Presidents’ Day 2014. Among the shows’ host venues was the Hayes center, affiliated with the Ohio History Connection.

Mrs. Hayes clearly is one of Mr. Och’s favorite first ladies.




“It’s amazing how comfortable in her skin she was,” he said. “Lucy Hayes is the reason first ladies have causes now. She was doing it before it was cool.”

His stories don’t end with the former Fremont resident. Jane Pierce never wanted her husband, Franklin Pierce, to run for the presidency. Mr. Och said she wanted a typical life where she raised the children and he worked his law practice at home. Two of their three children died before age 5, and their third was killed in a railroad accident two months before President Pierce’s inauguration.

“She put on a brave face for something she didn’t want to do in the first place,” Mr. Och said. “Some of these women wanted a personal life but didn’t have it.”

Once Christie Weininger heard Mr. Och was traveling around and speaking about the women he learned so much about, she wanted to schedule him to come back. His enthusiasm, excitement, and stories make him an engaging speaker, she said.

“The series is fantastic, interesting, and educational,” she said. “He’s a really entertaining speaker. I think the audience will hang on every word.”

Tickets are $10 each. Reservations can be made by calling 419-332-2081 ext. 238.

Contact Matt Thompson at:, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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