Rose Mary Woods

Rose Mary Woods
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

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 Cook County Sheriff, and longtime member of the Cook County, Illinois 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 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.[4]

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

Secretary to the President

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"[5]) – was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate. The contents of the gap remain a mystery.[6]

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.


External video
Rose Mary Woods, Devoted Nixon Secretary, Dies, 2:20, January 24, 2005, NPR[7]

Woods died on January 22, 2005, at McCrea Manor, a nursing home in Alliance, Ohio.[4] A memorial service was held at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.


  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. 1 2 Sullivan, Patricia (2005-01-24), Rose Mary Woods Dies; Loyal Nixon Secretary, The Washington Post, retrieved 2008-10-08
  5. The Watergate Files - Battle for the Tapes: July 1973 - November 1973, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
  6. Shenon, Philip (2005-01-24), Rose Mary Woods, 87, Nixon Loyalist for Decades, Dies, The New York Times, retrieved 2008-10-08
  7. "Rose Mary Woods, Devoted Nixon Secretary, Dies". NPR. January 24, 2005. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
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