Edward Nixon, the youngest and last surviving brother of former President Richard Nixon, died in a nursing home outside of Seattle on Wednesday.
He was 88.
The life and times
Edward Nixon was born in 1930 in California. His parents, Frank and Hannah Nixon, also had four other children: Harold, Francis Donald, Arthur, and Richard.
In 1952, Edward Nixon earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Duke University. Two years later, he was awarded a master’s degree in geological engineering from North Carolina State University.
He went on to work as a geologist and later became president of an energy consulting firm known as Nixon World Enterprises in 1971, a position he held until his death.
Edward Nixon also served as an aviator and helicopter instructor in the U.S. Navy and as a professor of naval science at the University of Washington as part of the Naval Reserve.
In 1957, Edward Nixon married Gay Lynne, who preceded him in death in 2014.
Caught up in politics
The New York Times reported that Edward Nixon was a fervent supporter and defender of his brother Richard’s legacy, and even played a role in the Republican’s 1968 and 1972 campaigns, including as co-chair.
Edward later testified as a witness for the defense in the trials of Nixon’s commerce secretary, Maurice Stans, and Attorney General John Mitchell, both of whom were charged with obstruction of justice and perjury related to investigations of campaign finance violations during the 1972 campaign. Both Stans and Mitchell were ultimately acquitted.
Richard Nixon, who was 17 years Edward’s senior, also reportedly offered his brother a role within his administration. Edward declined that offer over concerns about nepotism and potential conflicts of interest.
In a statement released by the Richard Nixon Foundation, the president’s daughters Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower said their uncle was “a source of guidance to our father, whose favorite little Eddie grew up into a renowned geologist with infectious curiosity.”
And it seems the love was shared between them. In his 2009 memoir, The Nixons: A Family Portrait, Edward wrote that Richard “was more than a brother. Because we never shared a boyhood, he assumed the role of assistant father and mentor.”
“I considered Dick to be outgoing with his ears — not with his mouth,” Edward added. “Through thought-provoking questions, he encouraged me to learn and solve problems. More than anyone else in the family, he could stand back from a contentious situation and give impartial and convincing advice.”
Edward Nixon is survived by his daughters, Amelie Peiffer and Elizabeth Matheny.