In the fall of 1945 Dick Nixon was a junior Navy officer having recently returned stateside from assignment in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Roy Day was a newspaper ad man working in Pomona. The two met when Nixon, still in his Navy uniform as it was the only suit he owned, returned to Whittier to appear before the “Committee of 100”, a group Day helped to form to locate a viable candidate willing to take on the daunting task of trying to unseat Democrat Congressman Jerry Voorhis, a five term incumbent. As Roy listened to Dick make his presentation before the Committee at the William Penn Hotel in Whittier, Roy’s first thought was “This is salable merchandise,” and so began a lifelong friendship.
The Committee selected Dick as its candidate, and his campaign was born in Roy Day’s modest Pomona home and officially launched in Pomona. Against long odds, Nixon defeated Voorhis and was easily re-elected to the House of Representatives in 1948 (he even won the Democrat primary). Dick returned to Roy’s hometown of Pomona to launch his candidacy for U.S. Senate in 1950, defeating Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas. General Eisenhower recognized Nixon as a rising star and selected him as his running mate in 1952. Again, Dick Nixon returned to Roy’s hometown to launch his Vice Presidential campaign, and Roy’s daughters Linda and Diana even participated in the event. Later, when Roy had another daughter, he named her Patricia in honor of Pat Nixon.
Through the years Roy and Dick maintained their friendship, and Roy always supported Nixon’s campaigns. Even in the depths of Watergate, Roy was unwavering in his commitment to his longtime friend – ultimately suggesting that the White House tapes be taken out and burnt on the front lawn. When President Nixon learned of Roy’s suggestion, he wrote and thanked his old friend. After Nixon’s resignation, Roy and his family visited San Clemente where Dick and his first campaign manager enjoyed reminiscing and spending time with the Day family. The two old friends kept in touch through letters following the Nixons move to New York in 1980, and after Roy died at the age of 86, Nixon corresponded with Roy’s daughter Linda who had helped launch his 1952 Campaign. Through it all, Dick and Roy enjoyed an old school friendship of over forty years.