Helen Gandy

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Helen Gandy : biography

April 8, 1897 – July 7, 1988

William C. Sullivan, an agent with the Bureau for three decades, reported in his memoir when he worked in the public relations section answering mail from the public, he gave a correspondent the wrong measurements for Hoover’s personal popover recipe, relying on memory rather than the files. Gandy, ever protective of her boss, caught the error and brought it to Hoover’s attention. The director then placed an official letter of reprimand in Sullivan’s file for the lapse. W. Mark Felt, deputy associate director of the Bureau, wrote in his memoir that Gandy "was bright and alert and quick-tempered—and completely dedicated to her boss."

The Files

J. Edgar Hoover died during the night of May 1 – May 2, 1972. According to Curt Gentry, who wrote the book J Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, Hoover’s body was not discovered by his live-in cook and general housekeeper, Annie Fields. Rather, it was discovered by James Crawford, who had been Hoover’s chauffeur for 37 years. Crawford then yelled out to Fields and Tom Moton (Hoover’s new chauffeur after Crawford had retired in January, 1972). Ms. Fields first called Hoover’s personal physician, Dr. Robert Choisser, then used another phone to call Clyde Tolson’s private number. Tolson then called Helen Gandy’s private number with the news of Hoover’ death along with orders to begin destroying the files. Within an hour, the "D List" ("d" standing for destruction) was being distributed and the destruction of files began. However, The New York Times quoted an anonymous F.B.I. source in Spring 1975 that "Gandy had begun almost a year before Mr. Hoover’s death and was instructed to purge the files that were then in his office."

[[L. Patrick Gray, was appointed Acting FBI Director by President Nixon after Hoover’s death.]] Anthony Summers reported that G. Gordon Liddy stated his sources in the F.B.I. said "by the time Gray went in to get the files, Miss Gandy had already got rid of them." The day after Hoover died, L. Patrick Gray, who had been named acting director by President Richard Nixon upon Tolson’s resignation from that position, went to Hoover’s office. Gandy paused from her work to give Gray a tour. He found file cabinets open and packing boxes being filled with papers. She informed him the boxes contained personal papers of Hoover’s. Gandy stated Gray flipped through a few files and approved her work, but Gray was to deny he looked at any papers. Gandy also told Gray it would be a week before she could clear Hoover’s effects out so he could move into the suite.

Gray reported to Nixon that he had secured Hoover’s office and its contents. However, he had sealed only Hoover’s personal inner office, where no files were stored, not the entire suite of offices. Since 1957, Hoover’s "Official/Confidential" files, containing material too sensitive to include in the Bureau’s central files, had been kept in the outer office, where Gandy sat. Curt Gentry reported that Gray would not have known where to look in Gandy’s office for the files, as her office was lined floor to ceiling with filing cabinets. And without her index to the files, he would not have been able to locate incriminating material, for files were deliberately mislabeled, e.g. President Nixon’s file was labeled "Obscene Matters".

The next day, May 4, she turned over twelve boxes of the "Official/Confidential" containing 167 files and 17,750 pages to Mark Felt. Many of them contained derogatory information. Gray told the press that afternoon that "there are no dossiers or secret files. There are just general files and I took steps to preserve their integrity." Gandy retained the "Personal File".

Gandy worked on going through Hoover’s "Personal File" in the office until May 12. She then transferred at least thirty-two file drawers of material to the basement rec room of Hoover’s Washington home at 4936 Thirtieth Place, Northwest, where she would continue her work from May 13 to July 17. Gandy later testified nothing official had been removed from the Bureau’s offices, "not even his badge." There the destruction was overseen by John P. Mohr, the number three man in the Bureau after Hoover and Tolson. They were aided by James Jesus Angleton, the Central Intelligence Agency’s counterintelligence chief, whom Hoover’s neighbors saw removing boxes from Hoover’s home. Mohr would claim the boxes Angleton removed were cases of spoiled wine.