Judy Agnew, former vice president's wife, dead at 91

Former second lady died June 20 in Rancho Mirage

POSTED: 02:40 PM PDT Jun 28, 2012 
Judy Agnew
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

Judy Agnew, the wife of former Vice President Sprio Agnew, has died at her home in Rancho Mirage. She was 91.

The New York Times describes her as the woman who went to Washington after Richard M. Nixon plucked her husband from relative political obscurity to make him vice president and who later stood by him when he resigned in 1973 because of criminal charges.

Visit Judy Agnew's memorial page on KESQ.com's Obituary section.

As the nation’s second lady, Agnew, a former PTA president and an assistant Girl Scout leader, continued to cook kettles of spaghetti, buy her clothes off the rack, pack her husband’s bag and do needlepoint, just as she had previously done in Annapolis when her husband was governor of Maryland, according to the Times.

She was fluent in the language of the “silent majority,” the bloc of middle-class, mostly conservative, mostly white voters whom Nixon courted. When a reporter asked what she was up to, she said in an accent she called Baltimorese, “I’ve been trying to keep the ashtrays clean.”

“I don’t take stands on anything,” she said in an interview with Parade magazine in 1970. “I stay out of the political end of it. When people ask what I majored in, I proudly tell them — ‘I majored in marriage.’”

She is survived by her daughters Pamela DeHaven, Susan Sagle and Kimberly Fisher; her son, James; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.