Tuesday, September 1, 2009


To all my friends who might be wondering where we are and what we have been doing:

Well, here we are on TDY. The old military term for "Temporary Duty Yonder" . . . we are starting a year or so living in Yorba Linda, California. Yorba is the name of the family who founded this area, and Linda means pretty in Spanish. It is pretty.

We rented a house that is a bit over the top. It's huge, in a chopped up, cavernous way, with two staircases, six bedrooms, six bathrooms and a swimming pool that looks Greecian/Las Vegas gawdy, with three waterfalls and four spitting lions. You know I couldn't make that up.
My favorite spot is a little prayer garden in the side yard that has a statue of the Virgin Mary and a little bench for solitude and meditation.

Ron was recruited and persuaded to serve as the first President of the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation. When the long-time executive director, John Taylor, resigned to become a full time Episcopal priest, the Foundation Board launched an executive search to find his replacement. They chose Korn/Ferry International. Board Chairman, Kris Elftmann, was advised by Sandy Quinn to contact Ron Walker to help him understand the search process. The more Ron and Kris talked, and it was quite often, the more Kris came to realize who should do the job. (It reminds me of George W. Bush asking Dick Cheney to lead his search for a Vice President.)

Ron told Kris he was "too old and very happily retired," for weeks. Kris wouldn't accept that answer. Finally, at dinner one night with Linda Elftmann, Sandy Quinn and me, Ron said, "If you really want me to do this you will have to get 100 percent of your board behind this. I won't do it without that kind of support, and I will put a succession plan in place immediately. I will only do it for a year to `18 months." Kris jumped on the challenge and pulled it off . . . . and here we are. Every once in a while we look at each other and GULP!

But, as so often happens with our wonderful family, Ron comes complete with his own "Verizon Network." Marja came with us and is our House/Dog Manager. Being the sole proprieter of her MarjaDesign Graphics Company, she can work anywhere that is wifi enabled. She is officed in the living room, at the front of the house.

We came to the Library in June when Ron was asked to speak to the Young President's Organization. They were meeting at the La Casa Pacifica, the Nixon's former home in San Clemente. It is now owned by Gavin and Ninetta Herbert. It was during this visit that Ron gave Kris the 100% Board Challenge, but nobody else knew what was in the works but Sandy Quinn and Linda Elftman. Ron and I flew up to Jackson Hole and spent three weeks "banking rest" while Ron and Kris talked multiple times daily. Marja held down the Tucson fort with the doggies.

When the Board voted unanimously for Ron to assume the leadership of the Foundation, they also voted to change the title from Executive Director to President. Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, both board members, were grateful and gracious in expressing their appreciation that Ron would consider taking on this role.

Now we, "the network," had to get to work. Marja and I drove over with the dogs, our brother and sister dachshunds, Kodai and Lulubelle. Ron flew over. Lynne and Barry flew in from Kentucky. Lisa volunteered to be in charge of the Tucson house.

We got three rooms at the Fullerton Marriott and proceeded to find a house to rent. We found this beauty, and finalized the deal. We dubbed it "Coyote Base." Then we took the dogs to play on Newport Beach, my girlhood stomping ground.

In the meantime, the Library Foundation Staff and all the docents welcomed us in the East Room. We had a catered lunch with the staff and felt very welcome and appreciated. Sandy, Frank Gannon, Ron and I drove up to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to have dinner with our wonderful, and longtime friend, Bruce Herschenson. He's one of the treasures of the time that we represent here and the mission is to join together and work to enrich the legacy of Richard Nixon.

We know we will never get past Watergate. That's a given. But we can strive to highlight the MANY good things President Nixon accomplished. They include the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), the All volunteer Army that ended the draft, Parks to the People, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and of course his Opening of China, to name just a few. Perhaps someday, they won't ALWAYS refer to RN as the first President to Resign" without at least mentioning one or more positive achievements too.

My girls asked me to keep a blog of the experience and this is my first one. We, of course, encourage everyone to get involved with the library, if you have any interest. It is amazing to realize that we are the only ones here who "lived" it. Now that the National Archives are involved and the Library is a part of the "Presidential Libraries System," quality control is needed. There was a picture of Dick Howard on a board, probably part of the "Nixon-Frost" movie set, and the name on the back was Gordon Strachan. That's just an example of the necessity for leadership by someone who lived it.

If you received this and have no interest, I won't be offended. Just let me know.

All the best, Anne Walker reporting from Coyote Base in Yorba Linda, California


Anonymous said...

Hello Anne,
Great Blog... I am so glad your girls talked you into doing a blog. I look forward to many more...Good luck and enjoy,

Gayle Brady (Lynne's friend from ISPA... Canyon Ranch)

Lorna Collins - Author said...


Larry and I both work in Brea. We're less than five minutes away from you! We need to meet for lunch some day. Call Larry at 949-633-1381 or me at 949-633-1370 and we'll set a date!

We usually get off the 57 at Yorba Linda and practically drive by the library on our way to work - but we've never been there.

I agree with Rob. When are we going to have the reunion? We could do it here. There's room!

Welcome back!