Cook-Walden Capital Parks Cemetery and Mausoleum Pflugerville, Travis County, Texas, USA
Walter Wilson Jenkins (March 23, 1918 – November 23, 1985) was an American political figure and longtime top aide to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Jenkins' career ended after a sex scandal was reported weeks before the 1964 presidential election, when Jenkins was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct with another man in a public restroom in Washington, D.C.
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 six children, four boys and two girls. They separated in the early 1970s but never divorced. She died in 1987.
Jenkins began working for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1939 when Johnson was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives as the member from Texas's 10th congressional district. For most of the next 25 years, Jenkins served as Johnson's top administrative assistant, following Johnson as he rose to become a Senator, Vice President under John F. Kennedy, and President.
A month before the 1964 presidential election, on October 7, District of Columbia Police arrested Jenkins in a YMCA restroom. He and another man were booked on a disorderly conduct charge, an incident described as "perhaps the most famous tearoom arrest in America." He paid a $50 fine. Rumors of the incident circulated for several days and Republican Party operatives helped to promote it to the press. Some newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Cincinnati Enquirer, refused to run the story. Journalists quickly learned that Jenkins had been arrested on a similar charge in 1959, which made it much harder to explain away as the result of overwork or, as one journalist wrote, "combat fatigue."
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.
The Tony-award winning play and HBO docudrama, All the Way, that aired on May 21, 2016, about President Lyndon Johnson's first year in office from the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963 through the 1964 election on November 3, depicts the 1964 scandal involving Jenkins.
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