By Trevor Jensen | Tribune reporter
12:35 PM CST, January 29, 2008
Margaret Truman Daniel, 83, President Harry Truman’s only child, a mystery novelist whose early efforts as a singer famously led her father to threaten an unkind critic with a punch to the nose, died on Tuesday in Chicago after a brief illness, according to a spokesman for the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.
After living for 41 years on Park Avenue in New York, Mrs. Daniel had made plans last May to move to Chicago. Her son, Clifton Truman Daniel, is director of public relations for Truman College in Chicago. But ill health and a hospitalization in New York delayed those plans. Mrs. Daniel was staying in a care facility in Chicago at the time of her death, the Truman library spokesman said.Mrs. Daniel was born on Feb. 17, 1924, in Independence, Mo. She graduated from George Washington University and pursued a singing career while her father was in office. She performed at Carnegie Hall in 1949.In 1950, a Washington critic panned one of her performances, prompting the president to write a letter on White House stationery that read in part: “Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below.”
Mrs. Daniel married Clifton Daniel, the former managing editor of The New York Times, in 1956. He died in 2000.
The author of 23 novels, Mrs. Daniel also wrote nine books of non-fiction that include a biography of her mother, Bess W. Truman. After her father’s death in 1972, she worked as an advocate for presidential libraries.
In addition to her son, she is survived by two other sons, Harrison Gates and Thomas Washington; and five grandchildren.
Another son, William Wallace Daniel, was killed in September 2000 when he was hit by a cab in New York City.
A public memorial is being planned at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence.