Edward Nixon, the youngest brother of former President Richard Nixon who staunchly defended his sibling’s White House legacy, died on Wednesday. He was 88.
The Richard Nixon Foundation announced that Nixon died at a nursing facility in Bothell, Washington, a Seattle suburb.
A geologist and Navy veteran, Nixon worked on his brother’s 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns and served as co-chairman of the Nixon re-election committee in 1972.
In a statement released by the foundation, Richard Nixon’s daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, called their uncle “our family’s rock” since the former president died in 1994.
They also called him a “source of strength”.
Richard Nixon was 17 years old and getting ready to start college when his youngest brother was born on 3 May 1930 in Whittier, California. Edward Calvert Nixon was the fifth son of Frank and Hannah Nixon and had been the last surviving brother of the former president. Because of their age difference, Edward Nixon described his older brother as a mentor and assistant father, the foundation said.
In 1994, Edward Nixon told reporters the former president was frequently misrepresented, with the focus on the Watergate scandal that drove him from office.
He said in his extensive travels around the globe he was always asked by residents in other countries, “What’s the matter with the people in the United States? Why did they put him out of office?”
“What really irks... his friends are the repeated references to the things that didn’t go well in his life and to the ‘enigma of the man’,” Nixon said at the time. “He’s just a brother to me.”
Edward Nixon was an original board member of the private Richard Nixon Foundation, which founded and operated the presidential library until the National Archives took control in 2007.
A $500,000 makeover followed, which scholars said provided a more balanced and accurate account of the Watergate story. But the new exhibit caused friction with the foundation, which filed extensive objections. Then-library director Tim Naftali, who described the original display as inaccurate, told the LA Times in 2011 that he had a tense encounter with Edward Nixon and other foundation members in 2010, who berated him about the revised exhibit and considered it unfair.
Edward Nixon is survived by his daughters Amelie Peiffer and Elizabeth Matheny. His wife died in 2014.
MICHAEL R BLOOD