Richard Nixon Key Biscayne
Presented by Father Libby 1968-1974
In 1950, Bebe Rebozo invited a friend and former classmate, U.S. Senator George Smathers, to go fshing off Key Biscayne. Joining the expedition that day were three of Senator Smathers’ colleagues, Senators Richard Nixon, Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. This early example of presidential visits to Key Biscayne also began Nixon’s decades-long connection with our Island Paradise, where he maintained a residence on Bay Lane for many years. Key Biscayners became used to the Secret Service presence, highly recognizable by their colorful tropical print shirts, and the comings and goings of government offcials and Nixon family friends. During the 1960 presidential campaign, then-Vice President Nixon used Key Biscayne frequently as a campaign base and a refuge from campaign burdens, much like Senator Kennedy did at his family home in Palm Beach. In the days after the 1960 election, PresidentElect Kennedy came to Key Biscayne to meet with Vice President Nixon. They discussed the election, the transition to a new administration and the future. Although not quite foreseeable at that time, that future included President Nixon’s own administration, substantial elements of which played out at the Winter White House on Bay Lane.
In October 2017, Father Bob Libby, former rector of St. Christopher’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church and a founding member of the Key Biscayne Historical and Heritage Society, brought to life President Nixon’s years on the Key in a very personal, anecdotelaced talk in front of a gathering of about 100 participants, including some oldtimers who shared their own memories. Drawing on many photographs from the Nixon years, compiled mainly by Bob Bristol, another founder of the Historical and Heritage Society, Father Libby related intimate stories about Mr. Nixon and his years on the Key from our purely localized perspective. Touching on Nixon’s and Rebozo’s long friendship, which continued until Nixon’s death in 1994, as well as Nixon’s affection for President Kennedy and his very close relationship with his wife Pat, Father Libby used stories and photos to call to mind the unlikely juxtaposition of presidential pomp and circumstance in our highly informal Island Paradise.