White House Press Secretary Gerald Warren Dies

Gerald L. Warren, a deputy White House press secretary during the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, who later became the editor of San Diego’s largest newspaper, died March 20 at a hospital in Arlington, Va. He was 84.

He had been in hospice care for cancer and pneumonia, his former newspaper, now called U-T San Diego, reported.

Mr. Warren was assistant managing editor of the San Diego Union in 1969 when he was hired as a deputy press secretary in the administration of President Nixon. He served through Nixon’s resignation in 1974 and into the Ford presidency until 1975.

He then returned to journalism, becoming editor of the Union and later the merged publication San Diego Union-Tribune until 1995.

Gerald Lee “Jerry” Warren was born in Hastings, Neb., on Aug. 17, 1930. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska in 1952, he served four years as a naval aviator. Later, he settled in San Diego, working his way into a career as a reporter and editor at the Union.

Leaving the paper for Washington, Mr. Warren thrived in the city’s hothouse atmosphere. His first wife, the former Euphemia Brownell, recalled how a red telephone installed at the family’s home “rang at all hours of the day and night.” He traveled with Nixon to China, attended French President Charles de Gaulle’s funeral in Paris, and flew home from the Soviet Union with genuine Russian vodka.

Yet serving during the Nixon administration also took a heavy toll.

“To live through the intense two years of Watergate,” his first wife said, “he had to maintain an absolute belief that the president did not know, that it had to be his underlings who had done this. If he thought otherwise, he would lose his internal compass.”


In the end, though, even Mr. Warren could not deny the president’s guilt, admitting in 1975 that he believed Nixon was guilty of crimes.

“To find out that he had been used that way,” his first wife said, “it was devastating to him.”

Mr. Warren returned to journalism in 1975 as editor of the San Diego Union, overseeing the paper through its merger with the Evening Tribune.

After his retirement in 1995, Mr. Warren moved to Middleburg, Va., and devoted much of his time to the Episcopal Church. He received a master’s degree in theology from the Virginia Theological Seminary and led a four-year ministry education program.

“He was searching for a closer relationship to God, and his faith was increasingly important to him,” his daughter, Euphemia “Mia” Johnson, told U-T San Diego.

His second marriage, to Viviane Pratt, ended in divorce. Survivors include two children from his first marriage; and two grandchildren.

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