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Red rose from bouquet given to Jackie Kennedy at Dallas Love Field in 1963 to be sold at auction

“It’s one of the few things that was in the limousine that you can have,” said Bobby Livingston, RR Auctions.

DALLAS — A single red rosebud said to be from the bouquet given to First Lady Jackie Kennedy at Dallas Love Field on Nov. 22, 1963, is up for auction this week, along with an original press pass for JFK’s presidential visit to the city where he was assassinated.

“When I heard that the family of Jay Watson had a rose from Jackie’s bouquet, it’s ‘oh my gosh,'” said Bobby Livingston, RR Auctions.

The rosebud and the press pass belonged to Jay Watson, the program director in 1963 for WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Upon learning of the flower, Livingston said he immediately flew to Arizona to meet with Watson’s children.

“When she pulled the flower out of the envelope, I said ‘don’t touch it,” Livingston recalled describing his conversation with Watson’s daughter.

Credit: RR Auctions

Out-of-breath and clinching a UPI bulletin, Watson famously was the first journalist to break the news of the assassination on television.

Watson, WFAA's Jerry Haines and another colleague at the station were in Dealey Plaza during their lunch break watching the motorcade pass when Lee Harvey Oswald opened fire.

Watson was able to get on television so quickly because Dealey Plaza is just a few blocks away from WFAA’s studios.

Credit: WFAA

“He always told his children you’re going to find this rose and it’s a piece of American history and it’s very valuable,” Livingston added.

Watson is said to have told his children that he bought the rose from a Dallas police officer for $50. The flower is believed to have been taken from the backseat of the presidential limousine outside Parkland’s emergency room.

“The chain of custody is a little bit broken because we don’t know which police officer sold it to Jay. But we do know that Jay knew the police chief and Jay was a big figure in Dallas and the fact that he retained it. He has nothing else besides that press pass and this rose from this biggest day of his life,” Livingston explained. “We asked Jay, Jr., 'what else did he tell you?' He said, ‘I wish I had asked my father which policeman’ or drilled down more on it.”

Only a handful of roses from the first lady’s bouquet still exist and all remain in private collections.

Dallas’ police chief at the time, Jesse Curry, is said to have two of Mrs. Kennedy’s roses. And two former employees of Parkland Hospital picked up two others from the bouquet as Trauma Room One emptied out.

Credit: RR Auctions

But this rose from Watson’s family is the first to ever go up for auction.

“It’s so important in my mind because it’s one of the few things that was in the limousine that you can have,” said Livingston.

RR Auctions in Boston will sell the rose in a live auction on Thursday at 6 p.m. Central. Watson’s press pass for the presidential visit to Dallas stamped as number 82 is also part of the lot.

Both artifacts, two rare pieces of Americana that witnessed history that day in Dallas, are valued at $10,000.

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