Watergate figure has local roots

October 29, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The man who became one of the most recognizable faces in America during the Watergate scandal is no stranger to Martinsburg. And he said that it is with pleasure that he will return to the West Virginia town in a little less than a week.

John Dean, who was the counsel to President Nixon and involved in the Watergate scandal and later testified for the prosecution - implicating Nixon - will speak on Saturday in Martinsburg as part of the West Virginia Book Faire.

Dean is the author of seven books. His most recent book, "Conservatives Without Conscience," was released in July.

Dean's roots in Martinsburg include his grandfather and father, both of whom are from the town. Both of his parents are buried there, "resting in peace," Dean said during a telephone interview from his California home.

At Saturday's event, Dean said that he will not be reading from his books, but will speak extemporaneously and answer questions. He is scheduled to speak from noon to 1 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (formerly The Community and Technical College of Shepherd) at 400 W. Stephen St. in Martinsburg.


Dean lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his wife, Maureen.

Family: Proud then, and now

Dean still has family in the Martinsburg area, including Bob Dean, a first cousin. Their fathers were brothers, Bob Dean said.

Bob Dean said he and his cousin get together when they can, and talk on the phone or exchange e-mails regularly.

"He always tries to defer the conversation to me and how I'm doing and how my family's doing," said Bob Dean, 53.

Bob Dean is reading his cousin's newest book; it's on his bedside table, he said.

"I think it's interesting that he got pulled back into politics the way he did," Bob Dean said. "(He was) kind of forced back into the political arena by the neocons and their whole approach to politics."

Bob Dean, who lives a few miles outside of Martinsburg in the Spring Mills, W.Va., area, did not shy away from answering Watergate-related questions, and expressed unwavering support for his cousin.

"We were all very supportive. I think John made the decision at some point that the only one he could make philosophically or morally was to come clean," Bob Dean said. "I think he did the right thing, and I was really proud of him at the time, and remain so to this day."

John Dean had two aunts who were teachers in Martinsburg. Bob Dean's mother, Ruth, taught at Martinsburg High School for about 25 years, and afterward taught at what then was Shepherd College, now Shepherd University, for another 14 years.

Another aunt, Mary, also taught at Martinsburg High School, Bob Dean said.

Bob Dean said he remembers talking to his cousin in 1973 - the year that John Dean began cooperating with the prosecution and the year the Senate's televised Watergate hearings began - when John Dean returned to Martinsburg for his father's funeral.

"Because he was actually in the hearings, he couldn't say much," Bob Dean said.

If you go...

What: Discussion with John Dean, former White House counsel to Richard Nixon and a Watergate co-conspirator who later testified for the prosecution about the scandal.

When: Saturday, noon

Where: Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, 400 W. Stephen St., Martinsburg, W.Va.


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