Monday, January 24, 2005

In Memoriam:
America's Most Loyal
Private Secretary

I remember Rose Mary Woods...

Loyal Nixon Secretary
Rose Mary Woods
Dead at 87

By Mark Williams Associated Press Writer
Published: Jan 23, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Rose Mary Woods, the devoted secretary to President Nixon who admitted to inadvertently erasing part of a crucial Watergate tape, has died. She was 87.

Woods died Saturday night at a nursing home in Alliance, Roger Ruzek, owner of a funeral home in Sebring, said Sunday. He did not know the cause of death.

The 18 1/2-minute gap in the tape of a June 20, 1972, conversation between Richard Nixon and chief of staff H.R. Haldeman was critical to the question of what Nixon knew about the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex three days earlier - and when he knew it.

Woods, who moved to Alliance in northeastern Ohio after leaving the disgraced president's staff in 1976, never talked much about her years with the only American president to resign the office.

But Nixon considered her a member of the family. He wrote in his memoirs that it was Woods he asked to inform first lady Pat Nixon and his daughters in 1974 that he had decided to resign on Aug. 9.

"My decision was irrevocable, and I asked her to suggest that we not talk about it anymore when I went over for dinner," Nixon said.

When the time came for the family to privately say goodbye to Nixon before he climbed aboard the helicopter headed for Air Force One, Woods stood by with Mrs. Nixon, daughters Tricia and Julie, and their husbands.

"Rose ... is as close to us as family," Nixon said.


"One of the reasons why Woods struck up such a good rapport with her boss was that their characters were similar. Disciplined in her emotions yet passionate in her convictions, Woods was intuitive, protective and obsessive about privacy."

Nixon defended his loyal employee when fingers pointed at Woods, who had spent weeks transcribing subpoenaed White House tapes.


Here's Richard Nixon's Oval Office tape recorder...

"I know I did not do it," Nixon said. "And I completely believe Rose when she says that she did not do it."

Here's Rose Mary's office tape recorder...

She denied she caused the full 18 1/2-minute gap, testifying later that she inadvertently erased four or five minutes. The phone rang while she was transcribing the tape, she said.

She accidentally hit the record button. A picture in which she demonstrated her action - stretching one foot forward while reaching back to get the phone - became one of the most famous images of the era.

Here's that famous picture...

Who erased the rest of the tape? No one knows.

Alexander Haig, who succeeded Haldeman as chief of staff, blamed the gap on "sinister forces." Experts later examined the tape and found as many as nine deliberate erasures. They said Woods could not have done the whole thing.

In an interview on the 25th anniversary of the 1972 break-in, Woods said she was rarely asked about Watergate anymore.

"Every once in a while I get notes and things from some of the people who were with us, but not much," she said.

"Everybody gets sort of separated." LINK

But not much?

So much for being "a part of the family."

We won't hear much about the passing of Rose Mary Woods from the mainstream media.

Fortunately for Watergate survivors, Johnny Carson had the good sense to pass over shortly after Rose Mary.

America's most loyal secretary can now be conveniently archived in Obit Land, and Nixonian thugs can breath a sigh of relief...

Once the Secret Service has determined that America's most loyal private secretary didn't leave a diary.

Don't you imagine that her home, family, bank, friends, and random acquaintances have been visted by the men in black since her passing?

I do.


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