“A great deal of the president’s difficulties can be traced to the fact that Walter had to leave,” Johnson’s press secretary, George Reedy, once told an interviewer. “All of history might have been different if it hadn’t been for that episode.” Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark suggested that Jenkins’ resignation “deprived the president of the single most effective and trusted aide that he had. The results would be enormous when the president came into his hard times. Walter’s counsel on Vietnam might have been extremely helpful.”
Jenkins was born in Jolly, Texas, and spent his childhood in Wichita Falls, Texas. There he attended Hardin Junior College and then spent two years at the University of Texas, though he did not earn a degree. In 1945, following his discharge from the Army, he converted to Roman Catholicism and married Helen Marjorie Whitehill. Jenkins and his wife had 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. They separated in the early 1970s but never divorced. She died in 1987.
Jenkins resigned from the Air Force Reserve in February 1965. After leaving Washington, Jenkins returned to Texas and lived the rest of his life in Austin, where he worked as a Certified Public Accountant and management consultant and ran a construction company. He died in 1985, at the age of 67, a few months after suffering a stroke. A made-for-television film, Vanished, loosely based on the Jenkins resignation, aired in 1971.
Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 6690-6696). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government by David K. Johnson
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2006)
Amazon: The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government
In Cold War America, Senator Joseph McCarthy enjoyed tremendous support in the fight against what he called atheistic communism. But that support stemmed less from his wild charges about communists than his more substantiated charges that "sex perverts" had infiltrated government agencies. Although now remembered as an attack on suspected disloyalty, McCarthyism introduced "moral values" into the American political arsenal. Warning of a spreading homosexual menace, McCarthy and his Republican allies learned how to win votes. Winner of three book awards, The Lavender Scare masterfully traces the origins of contemporary sexual politics to Cold War hysteria over national security. Drawing on newly declassified documents and interviews with former government officials, historian David Johnson chronicles how the myth that homosexuals threatened national security determined government policy for decades, ruined thousands of lives, and pushed many to suicide. As Johnson shows, this myth not only outlived McCarthy but, by the 1960s, helped launch a new civil rights struggle.
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