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Rose Mary Woods

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“You have been a good, dear friend and I am most grateful.”

Rose Mary Woods, 1917–2005.  Secretary to President Richard M. Nixon.  Typed letter signed, Rose, one page, 6” x 8”, on plain stationery, no place [likely Sebring, Ohio], August 6, 1990. 

Woods was Richard Nixon’s personal secretary for nearly 25 years, beginning in 1951 when he went to the United States Senate, continuing through his two terms as Vice President and his time in law practice in New York after he lost the 1962 California gubernatorial election, and then returning to Washington with him once he was elected President in 1968.  “Rose,” Nixon once said, “is as close to us as family.”  Indeed, she traded clothes with Pat Nixon, and the Nixon daughters called her “Aunt Rose.”  When Nixon decided to resign from the presidency in 1974, he asked Woods to tell his wife and daughters.  Woods stood with the family as the Nixons boarded the helicopter that flew them away from the White House upon Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974.  Fiercely loyal to Nixon, Woods even accepted blame in her 1974 grand jury testimony for the famous erasure of five out of 18½ minutes of one of the Watergate tapes.  She demonstrated—without much credibility—how she might have done it while transcribing the tape by straining to keep her toe on the transcriber pedal while reaching back at about a 45° angle behind herself, to a far corner of her desk outside of the Oval Office, in order to answer the telephone.  The press never accepted the story, and forensics later showed that she could not have done it.

As Nixon’s secretary, the Ladies Home Journal named her one of the “75 Most Important Women in the United States” in 1971.  Ten years earlier, the Los Angeles Times named her its “Woman of the Year,” the first time a secretary had ever received that award.  Nixon awarded her the title of “Executive Assistant to the President” in 1973.  After Nixon’s resignation, Woods continued to work for the federal government in Washington, D.C., until she returned to her home state of Ohio in 1976.

In this friendly letter, Woods writes to William T. Stover, a former Nixon aide who also served as the chief of staff for California Senator George L. Murphy.  Writing to “Dear Bill,” she says, in full:

When I sat down to write this note to you the first thought that came into my mind was that I owe you thanks for many, many kind things over the years.  You have been a good, dear friend and I am most grateful.

Added to all the nice things over the years—knowing how “beat” you had to be—it was more than thoughtful and generous of you to have Marje, Phil, Claudia and myself come to your apartment for drinks and then go on to the Yacht Club for dinner.  It was a delightful evening.  I am sorry that the “case of the missing”(?) bag had to take up so much of your time the next morning.  I know you are a good sport and so just hope you feel that all is well that ends well!

Again, I must add that I hope you will not give up your terrific apartment—I think you will always regret it.  Of course, it is none of my business—I just know how much you would miss it.

Hope you will be coming this way soon—would love to see you and repay some of your kindness!  Again, thanks for everything!


Woods likely wrote this letter from her home town of Sebring, Ohio, a small town southeast of Cleveland.  She died there in 2005.  She is buried in Grandview Cemetery in Sebring, and her signature is engraved on her tombstone.  She never married and had no children.

This letter is virtually pristine.  It has only one normal mailing fold, which runs between two lines of the text and does not affect the signature, and a couple of stray handling marks.  It is in very fine condition.

Occasionally a letter signed by Woods will appear on the autograph market, but our search of auction records shows that her letters are relatively scarce.  This is a nice opportunity to own an example from one of the people closest to Nixon.


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