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.
Rose Mary Woods was born in northeastern Ohio in the small pottery town of Sebring on December 26, 1917. Her brother was Joseph I. Woods, a Cook County Sheriff, and longtime member of the Cook County, Illinois Board.
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.
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 1⁄2 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") – was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate. The contents of the gap remain a mystery.
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.
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