Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


Dick and Pat Nixon lived in Ottumwa for seven months during World War II. Pat may have had more impact on Ottumwa than Richard.

Richard Nixon was a lieutenant at the Ottumwa Naval Air Base until he was sent to the Pacific on May 7, 1943. Meanwhile, Pat worked as a teller at the Union Bank and Trust Co. Making $80-$85/month, which she called a “scandalously low salary.” The Nixons shared a $55/month apartment at the Hillside, at East Fourth and Green Streets.

They were a quiet, well-behaved couple although one of Pat’s co-workers said, “She was a bit glamorous. One thing I remember is that she colored her hair. That was years before we all did that. She was a very ambitious person, very interested in fixing up her apartment.”

Nixon’s superior officer said that Dick came in to the officer’s club occasionally to have a few drinks and play the piano. His office duties included opening the mail and assigning typing work to employees. He was described as a nice fellow to talk to, but one who didn’t go out of his way to mix. He was very reserved, a little on the meek side, and never let his hair down to have fun. His superior officer never heard him talk politics and said, “I was surprised when he ran for Congress!”

That successful candidacy in 1946 was the first step in Nixon’s rise to the Presidency.

Nixon was Eisenhower’s Vice-President in 1952 and 1956. He was barely defeated in his first bid for President in 1960, but easily defeated Hubert Humphrey in the election of 1968. He altered U.S. Relations with China and brought the Vietnam War to a close.

(Iowa’s Amazing Past. George Mills. Iowa State University Press, 1972.)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick