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
Appointed by Richard Nixon
Preceded by Gerri Whittington
Succeeded by Dorothy E. Downton
Personal details
Born (1917-12-26)December 26, 1917
Sebring, Ohio
Died January 22, 2005(2005-01-22) (aged 87)
Alliance, Ohio
Political party Republican

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] 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 fiance 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.[3]

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

Secretary to the President[edit]

Woods demonstrates the "Rose Mary Stretch", a gesticulation that purportedly led to the erasure of five-plus minutes of the Watergate tapes.

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 1812 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"[4]) – was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate. The contents of the gap remain a mystery.[5]

She accompanied Nixon to California for a time following his resignation. Later, she returned to Washington and worked as a secretary to a Republican member of Congress on Capitol Hill.


Woods died on January 22, 2005, at McCrea Manor, a nursing home in Alliance, Ohio.[3] A memorial service was held at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.


External links[edit]