Nixon Library holds memorial service for Ed Nixon, the president’s youngest brother
Ed Nixon was proud of his older brother, President Richard Nixon. He worked to help get the 37th president elected and to promote the president’s legacy after his death.
But Ed Nixon also etched his own path, leaving his own legacy as a Navy aviator, geologist, global energy expert and as a husband and father.
The life and achievements of Nixon were celebrated during a memorial service in his honor on Sunday, April 14, at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum.
The youngest and last surviving brother of Richard Nixon died Feb. 27 at a nursing home in Bothell, Washington. He was 88 years old.
About 200 guests gathered in the Pat Nixon Amphitheater on the Nixon Library grounds for the simple, yet polished service which featured the singing of the national anthem, a gun salute, an American flag presentation and the playing of “Taps.”
Ed Nixon’s two daughters, Amelie Peiffer and Elizabeth Matheny, and two granddaughters, Jilly Matheny and Karina Johnson, were in attendance, as was Melanie Eisenhower, President Nixon’s granddaughter.
Ed Nixon was born in 1930 after Frank and Hannah Nixon had moved their family to Whittier. He was the only Nixon boy not born in the Yorba Linda home now part of the library grounds.
Maureen Drown Nunn, who served with Ed Nixon on the Nixon Foundation’s board of directors was among three to give eulogies sharing their recollections of Ed Nixon.
Nunn recalled Nixon telling a story about being 9 years old and taking a 39-hour train ride to Detroit with his big brother, Richard Nixon, then 26, to pick up a new 1939 Oldsmobile from the factory.
On the drive back to California, Richard Nixon made it a point to stop at many of the country’s natural wonders and historic sites along the way.
“Ed was so inspired and so transfixed, that he decided to become a scientist,” Nunn said. “He was so smart and so creative and so passionate about the role science and geology can play in the extracting of natural resources as potential for alternative energy sources.”
Ed Nixon worked on his brother’s presidential campaigns in 1968 and 1972 and served as co-chairman of the Nixon re-election committee in 1972.
After President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, a key first step in establishing relations between the two countries, Ed Nixon made more than 30 diplomatic trips to the country.
Zhang Ping, consul general of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, was also among the guests at the memorial.
“Mr. Nixon was loved everywhere he went,” said John Gong, a member of the Nixon Foundation who served as chief representative to Ed Nixon during his last visit to China in 2012. “His personality and wisdom attracted people to become his friend. He was an extremely thoughtful, kind and compassionate person.”
Ed Nixon was an original member of the Richard Nixon Foundation’s board of directors and involved in the presidential library in Yorba Linda from the beginning.
Through the years, Ed Nixon was a frequent participant in activities at the library, including in a middle school program featuring actors playing roles of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other notable presidents. Ed Nixon participated several times playing his brother.
In 2009, Ed Nixon released his memoir, “The Nixons: A Family Portrait,” co-written with Karen Olsen.
The book was launched at the Nixon Library on President’s Day in 2009.
“For both of us, the book was a labor of love,” said Olsen, who went on book signing tours with Nixon for 10 years. “Ed indeed left footprints of love.”