Last week I wrote about a retired Atlantic City firefighter named Richard Nixon, whom the New York Times’s website had profiled in a series about everyday Americans with Presidential names. Today’s post is about the Richard Nixon who lived on the opposite side of the Garden State during the last 13 years of his life – that is, the one, usually being discussed at TNN – and a remarkable man, Robert Re, who’s spent most of his 78 years in Bergen County.
Mr. Re, as this article by Karl De Vries from the Fair Lawn (N.J.) Town Journal describes, served for many years as a law-enforcement officer with the Ho-Ho-Kus police department, rising to chief, and also was a Bergen County undersheriff, as well as serving for several terms on the Saddle River town council, from which he is retiring next month. De Vries notes that:
[p]erhaps the achievement that Re remembers most fondly, however, was his intimate relationship with former President Richard Nixon, who lived in Saddle River from 1981 to 1991. When the former president waived his lifetime Secret Service detail in 1985, calling it unnecessary, he retained his own security team, tapping Re, then the head of the Ho-Ho-Kus force, as his right-hand man.
Re would serve the former president for nine years until his death in 1994, accompanying him on a daily basis, observing how Nixon would never turn down an autograph request or a photo as he walked the streets of the community.
“The Nixon I knew was a warm, compassionate man, sensitive to the needs of other people,” said Re, who would meet such figures as Billy Graham, Bob Dole, Mikhail Gorbachev and former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter through his relationship with Nixon. One of his most prized artifacts, which he springs at the opportunity to display, is a photograph of him flanked by Nixon and former President Ronald Reagan, signed by both men.
Following the stroke that would eventually end Nixon’s life in 1994, Re spent five days at New York Hospital by the former president’s side, and flew to Yorba Linda aboard Air Force One, which then President Bill Clinton had sent to New Jersey to pick up Nixon’s entourage. During the funeral, Re sat with Nixon’s daughters, Tricia and Julie[…]
He’s been persuaded by numerous friends and family to write a book about his relationship with Nixon, focusing on the life of the former president following his resignation from office in 1974. But in the meantime, Re remains grateful for the camaraderie of the people he served with during his 46 years in law enforcement, his fellow council members, and the friends he has made as a longtime resident of Saddle River.
It’s also worth mentioning, with Veteran’s Day just past, that the longest period Mr. Re spent outside Bergen County in his adult life was during the Korean War when he served his country for three years overseas in the Marine Corps.