Helen Natalie Jacobs Strauss: Wife, confidante of a former U.S. ambassador

By Joe Simnacher The Dallas Morning News
Monday, May 1, 2006

Helen Natalie Jacobs Strauss was a mainstay of her family for more than 64 years.

 She helped raise three children as the supportive wife of Robert S. Strauss, a founding partner of the Dallas law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Mr. Strauss is also a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former ambassador to the Soviet Union.

 Mrs. Strauss, 87, died Saturday of natural causes at her home in Washington, D.C.

 A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas. She will be buried in Hillcrest Memorial Park.

 "She was a warm and caring person and a very supportive person," said her son, Robert A. Strauss Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. "She was very supportive of my father, all throughout her life."

Mrs. Strauss was often at her husband's side during his long career, which included being counselor and confidant to former presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

In 1973 alone, Mrs. Strauss was present for a major portion of the 75,000 miles her husband traveled during his first year as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. 

In Dallas, Mrs. Strauss was on the board of Hope Cottage and was a member of the Dallas Woman's Club.

"Aunt Helen distinguished herself as a devoted wife and mother, and that is how she probably would like to be remembered," said her niece, Nancy Strauss Halbreich. "However, to Uncle Bob, she was much more than a wife. She was his best friend, soul mate and life partner, and Uncle Bob trusted Aunt Helen's judgment implicitly. She was, in fact, his closest confidante."

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Mrs. Strauss moved with her family as a child to Dallas, where her father, Leslie L. Jacobs, was executive vice president of Pollock Paper Co.


She was a graduate of The Hockaday School and attended Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority.

Mrs. Strauss met her husband-to-be shortly after she transferred to UT in 1936. They married in Dallas in May 1941.

The couple lived in Dallas and in the Midwest when Mr. Strauss was with the FBI, their son said. In recent years, Mr. and Mrs. Strauss had homes in Dallas and Washington.

In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. Strauss is survived by another son, Richard C. Strauss of Dallas; a daughter, Susan Breen of Dallas; seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Theodore H. Strauss of Dallas is her brother-in-law.