Dorothy Cox Donnelly – a key staff member to Congressman, Senator, and Vice President Nixon – has died. She was 99.
In 1947, Donnelly starting serving as the freshman Congressman’s personal secretary in Washington, where she was a witness to his formidable work in the perjury case against accused Soviet Spy Alger Hiss. In 1950, again at the center of history, Donnelly ushered in Congressman John F. Kennedy to RN’s Senate office, just before he donated to his future rival’s campaign for California’s U.S. Senate Seat against Hollywood actor Helen Gahagan Douglas.
“I obviously can’t endorse you,” JFK told RN, “but it isn’t going to break my heart if you turn the Senate’s loss into Hollywood’s gain.”
In her eight years of service in government, Donnelly grew close to the Nixon Family and recalled the espirit de corps of the small staff working for “the boss.”
“We all worked hard, though your father never asked us to stay and work long hours,” Donnelly said in an interview with Julie Nixon Eisenhower for her book Pat Nixon:The Untold Story, “But because he worked such long hours, we did also.”
Donnelly was also very close to Mrs. Nixon, a friendship which grew from their similar upbringing.
“My mother died when I was ten and my father was paralyzed three years later. I was the eldest and had to quit school three times in order to make ends meet,” Donnelly said. “I could understand some of your mother’s hardships and the more I knew her, the more I admired her. When my daughter was born in 1957 I named her Patricia.”
Loie Gaunt, who worked with Donnelly in the Senate office, remembers her as an integral and loyal member to the staff who had a special talent in managing Mr. Nixon’s tasks and attending to the needs of his visitors.
“She knew how he wanted things done,” Gaunt said, “and she did it beautifully.”
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