It was December of 1965 that I first looked on the friendly Irish face of Anne Volz, outside the law office of Richard M. Nixon.
Anne was Nixon's receptionist, and she ushered me into a small office behind her where one encountered the formidable presence of Rose Mary Woods.
For 18 months, through that 1966 election, Anne, Rose and I worked in that tiny space with a volunteer who answered the phone as "Mrs. Ryan."
Mrs. Ryan was the future first lady Pat Nixon
Anne became my big sister. She brought me cigarettes. She brought me my cheeseburger and vanilla shake at lunch. She even tried to find me a nice Catholic girl. Anne invited me to join her and her boyfriend George at a dance at the New York Athletic Club for Catholic bachelors and spinsters.
It was not a good fit. But, as ever, Anne meant well.
In the spring of 1967, Nixon's receptionist from his days as vice president, a Shelley Scarney, returned, and Anne was put in charge of the rising volume of mail Nixon was receiving. She had her life's vocation. Anne would be in charge of the correspondence for three U.S. presidents.
And Miss Scarney found her life's vocation, as my wife.
Anne, Shelley, Rose and I traveled together during that campaign of 1968. And we went together into the White House.
Anne and George were married, and were as happy and devoted a couple as I have ever seen. They lived in Columbia Plaza in Washington, D.C., but had privileges at the Watergate. Every evening, they would go to swim at the Watergate, where Shelley was living. Many were the nights the four of us would go out together.
Among Anne's extraordinary qualities was ferocious loyalty to those she loved, especially George.
And George could be a contentious man. He had quit the FBI, and one of his grievances with this world, that he did not let you forget, was J. Edgar Hoover. There was a problem here. My uncle, Tom Jenkins, an FBI agent since the John Dillinger era, revered Hoover, and had risen under Hoover to become assistant director of the FBI.
At an Irish wake for my brother Bill, at my father's house, I found George in the kitchen, with Tom Jenkins, explaining to this former FBI assistant director what a loser J. Edgar Hoover was.
I thought I was going to have to break up a fight.
Anne assured me George had been right about Hoover.
When I returned to the White House under President Reagan as director of communications, Anne was chief of correspondence, and her office was in my portfolio. And in the White House turf battles, I protected Anne and she protected me.