Rose Mary Woods

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Rose Mary Woods
Rose Mary Woods photo portrait as personal secretary to the President, color, seated.jpg
Personal Secretary to the President
In office
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byGerri Whittington
Succeeded byDorothy E. Downton
Personal details
Born(1917-12-26)December 26, 1917
Sebring, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJanuary 22, 2005(2005-01-22) (aged 87)
Alliance, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican

Rose Mary Woods (December 26, 1917 – January 22, 2005) was Richard Nixon's secretary from his days in Congress in 1951, through the end of his political career. Before H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman became the operators of Nixon's presidential campaign, Woods was Nixon's gatekeeper.[1]

Early life and connection to Nixon[edit]

Rose Mary Woods was born in northeastern Ohio in the small pottery town of Sebring on December 26, 1917.[2] Her brother was Joseph I. Woods, a Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, and longtime member of the Cook County Board.[3]

Following graduation from McKinley High School, she went to work for Royal China, Inc., the city's largest employer. Woods had been engaged to marry, but her fiancé died during World War II. To escape all the memories of her hometown, she moved to Washington, D.C., in 1943, working in a variety of federal offices until she met Nixon while she was a secretary to the Select House Committee on Foreign Aid. Impressed by his neatness and efficiency, she accepted his job offer in 1951.[4]

She developed a very close relationship with the Nixon family, especially First Lady Pat Nixon.

Woods, as part of his staff, accompanied Vice-President Nixon on his 1958 goodwill tour of South America. She was injured by flying glass in the attack on Richard Nixon's motorcade when the windows in the car she was riding in were smashed.[5]

Secretary to the President of the United States[edit]

Woods was President Nixon's personal secretary, the same position she held from the time he hired her until the end of his lengthy political career.

Fiercely loyal to Nixon, Woods claimed responsibility in a 1974 grand jury testimony for inadvertently erasing up to five minutes of the 18 12 minute gap in a June 20, 1972, audio tape. Her demonstration of how this might have occurred—which depended upon her stretching to simultaneously press controls several feet apart (what the press dubbed the "Rose Mary Stretch"[6])—was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate. The contents of the gap remain unknown.[7] Later forensic analysis in 2003 determined that the tape had been erased in several segments—at least five, and perhaps as many as nine.[8]


External video
video icon Rose Mary Woods, Devoted Nixon Secretary, Dies, 2:20, January 24, 2005, NPR[9]

Woods died on January 22, 2005, at McCrea Manor, a nursing home in Alliance, Ohio, near her hometown.[4] A memorial service was held at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. She remained unmarried and had no children.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilkinson, Francis (2005-12-25), "Nixon's Real Enforcer", The New York Times, retrieved 2008-10-08
  2. ^ Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, retrieved 2012-04-26
  3. ^ Mount, Charles (July 12, 1988). "Woods To Leave County Board". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Sullivan, Patricia (2005-01-24), "Rose Mary Woods Dies; Loyal Nixon Secretary", The Washington Post, retrieved 2008-10-08
  5. ^ Aitken, Jonathan (2015). Nixon: A Life. Regnery Publishing. pp. 296–297. ISBN 978-1621574422.
  6. ^ The Watergate Files - Battle for the Tapes: July 1973 - November 1973, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
  7. ^ Shenon, Philip (2005-01-24), "Rose Mary Woods, 87, Nixon Loyalist for Decades, Dies", The New York Times, retrieved 2008-10-08
  8. ^ Clymer, Adam (May 9, 2003). "National Archives Has Given Up on Filling the Nixon Tape Gap". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 1, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2007.
  9. ^ "Rose Mary Woods, Devoted Nixon Secretary, Dies". NPR. January 24, 2005. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  10. ^ "Rose Mary Woods (1917-2005) - Find A Grave Memorial".