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Jack Worthington, the Bibbs and Lyndon Johnson

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Family in Texas say they are stunned to learn of the link made public by Jack Worthington, now living in British Columbia

Jessica Leeder

From Monday’s Toronto Globe and Mail

February 18, 2008 at 5:00 AM EST

Eagle Pass, Tex – The family link that connects the mother of a man who recently identified himself as John F. Kennedy’s son to the former president has its dusty roots in this scrubby town on the southern border of Texas.

It was here, in the late 1930s, over country club visits and long lunches across the Rio Grande at the famous El Moderno restaurant, that Lyndon Johnson began his friendship with Robert Bibb, a fierce Democrat and county judge whose 22-year political career

cemented his reputation as a local legend.

Judge Bibb, who gave up his seat in 1964, kept strong ties to Mr. Johnson when he assumed the presidency after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. It is well known that the judge even spent nights at the White House, his son Gravis told The Globe and Mail.

However, family members of the late judge say they were stunned to learn this week that there might be a second connection between the Bibbs and the White House, one that runs deeper than the judge’s.

[PHOTO: Mary Evelyn Bibb shown in a 1958 yearbook photo. ‘Hell, she was a beautiful woman,’ her cousin, Gravis Bibb, says. His father, a local judge, had strong ties to Lyndon Johnson and the White House. Ms. Worthington, a widow, now lives in Houston.]

Jack R. Worthington, the secretive, B.C.-based Texas who has requested DNA testing to prove he is the son of Mr. Kennedy, hinted in a statement to The Globe last week that a key pillar of his story lies in the historical connections between his mother’s paternal relatives and Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Worthington has been working with Vanity Fair magazine for the past 18 months on a story involving his claims, but publication was stalled after a member of the Kennedy family raised concerns, the New York Post recently wrote. In the wake of that coverage, Mr. Worthington approached The Globe to tell his story.

Although he agreed to reveal his identity, Mr. Worthington has been cautious in interviews and is reluctant to answer the most glaring questions posed by his tale. He refuses to speak about his mother, Mary Evelyn Bibb Worthington, and will not discuss the details of her alleged encounter with Mr. Kennedy.

Barr McClellan, a former Kennedy supporter and a Johnson-administration lawyer who recently published a conspiracy-theory book that posits an involvement of Mr. Johnson in Mr. Kennedy’s assassination, said the encounter is not beyond the realm of possibility.

“In Washington, Johnson was very much a woman chaser. We knew that he could make women available and did for Jack [Kennedy]. JFK had a similar attraction to and for young women,” he said, adding: “Making the connection from Johnson and his allies or family friends rests with Jack.”

Ms. Worthington, who was widowed last May when her husband, also named Jack R. Worthington, succumbed to emphysema, did not answer the door at her north Houston home this week. Her daughter, Houston socialite Nancy Littlejohn, threatened to call the police to her home in the post River Oaks district when approached by a reporter.

The Globe has interviewed several family members and former classmates of Ms. Worthington as part of the ongoing investigation into her son’s claims. While all confirm the family’s political connections to Mr. Johnson – Ms. Worthington is Judge Bibb’s niece – no one can recall for certain whether Ms. Worthington, an only child born here in 1941, was specifically introduced to Mr. Johnson or Mr. Kennedy.

“Lyndon Johnson spent the night at our house and my father spent the night in the White House,” said Gravis Bibb, the judge’s son. “My father was a very, very good friend of LBJ. They were buddies going way back.”

Mr. Bibb, a teacher in Eagle Pass, said he does not know whether Ms. Worthington encountered Mr. Kennedy – who never made an official visit to Eagle Pass – let alone via connections of Mr. Johnson.

“She would have been someone Kennedy would have looked at,” he said. “I don’t know how they hell they could have met.”

Mr. Bibb, who was close to Ms. Worthington growing up, escorted his cousin to the senior prom at Eagle Pass High School.

“Her father wouldn’t let her go with anyone else. My uncle was overly protective,” he said, adding: “Hell, she was a beautiful woman.”

In 1958 yearbook photos taken during her senior year, Ms. Worthington’s features, accented by long, wavy born hair and a petite waist, are reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Her popularity is evident: she was voted Homecoming Princess and was a runner-up for the school’s Most Beautiful Competition. She was also a band twirler, head majorette, and part of the Future Teachers of America Club.

After graduation, Ms. Worthington enrolled in Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos to get her teaching degree, cousin Daisy Diaz said. She also kept up her extracurricular activities, joining the dance team.

“Somewhere along the way, she met Jack [Worthington,]” Ms. Diaz said. “There was a lot of love there.”

None of the family members interviewed could recall exactly when Ms. Worthington met her future husband, who was also pursuing an education degree and playing varsity basketball.

It is unclear when the couple married. An obituary published last May after Mr. Worthington’s death said the couple had been married 47 years. If the younger Mr. Worthington’s revelations are correct – he was born on Nov. 22, 1961 – he would have been conceived after the Worthingtons were married.

In interviews, the younger Mr. Worthington has refused to say outright whether he believes his mother had an extramarital affair with Mr. Kennedy. However, he referred to the elder Mr. Worthington as “the man who raised me,” not his father.

Ms. Diaz, who went to high school with Ms. Worthington and married her first cousin, said Ms. Worthington “dedicated her whole life” to her husband, who suffered for years from emphysema.

“Even if it is true, I don’t know what Jack is thinking,” Ms. Diaz said.

She went on to say that the younger Mr. Worthington has been somewhat an enigma his entire life, having lived in Australia, Singapore, England, Thailand, Indonesia, Holland and Texas.

“I have never been able to figure out what he really does,” she said.

Mr. Worthington told The Globe that he is a businessman, but would not be more specific. Texas State University confirmed Mr. Worthington attended there in the early 1980s, and quit the varsity basketball team in 1983. The year before, at age 21, he married his first wife, whom he divorced after two years. His second marriage lasted longer, but crumbled after his wife, Alison, gave birth to their twin girls.

“He left her when they were weeks old. He met some chick,” said Laurie Bentley, who lived next door to the couple on a neighbouring acreage for about five years.

Alison Worthington and her daughter now live in Seattle, where the girls attend Kindergarten and were recently baptized, according to a neighbour. Ms. Worthington declined to speak to The Globe.

Ms. Bentley said Mr. Worthington has always been a mystery to her. She recalls he assembled a stable of polo ponies and worked at an Internet startup, Agvortal.com, which he walked away from in 2003.

Ms. Bentley said Mr. Worthington never mentioned a Kennedy link to her and suspects it’s a recent revelation.

“If he even suspected this years ago, I don’t think Jack had the ability or the ego to keep quiet,” she said.

With reports from Marsha Lederman in Vancouver and Marjan Farahbaksh in Toronto.

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