Gary Walters –> Stephen Rochon

President Bush just welcomed Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon to the position of chief usher of the White House, succeeding Gary Walters after 20 years. Here’s to a long and happy retirement to Mr. Walters and best wishes to the admiral and his new deputy, Dennis Freemyer.

Mr. Walters says that he is looking forward to a nice quiet retirement, managing the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and, on weekends and holidays, planning the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Update: The Wikipedia entry for “Gary Walters” is only for the basketball player. Let’s do something about that, eh?

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36 thoughts on “Gary Walters –> Stephen Rochon

  1. Awrite! A New Orleans man and an architect in the Usher’s Office! It’s pronounced Row-shawn in Noo Awlnz, dawlin. Accent on da “row”.

    Maybe Mr. Walters will do a “White House” baloon for the Macy’s Parade… It wouldn’t need that much help to stay aloft – I mean it already has wings… (ahem…)

  2. Well, I tip my hat to Mr. Walters and his service to our favorite house. In my opinion he did a great job. I can’t imagine the pressures faced by WH Chief Usher. I hope he writes a memoir…

    Best of luck to Mr. Rochon!

  3. Via con dios, Senor Walters. Thanks for looking after my fovourite house. Happy “retirement”. … and good luck to the new guy!. What a fantastic job you’ve snagged!

  4. Best wishes to Gary Walters on his retirement. I have had the priviledge of meeting Mr. Walters and talking with him. I hope he will write a book in the same vein as “Upstairs at the White House.”

    Congratulations to Admrial Rochon and his deputy, Dennis Freemyer.

    (Hey, why didn’t the White House advertise for the position on this website?)

  5. Thinking back on the number of presidents and first ladies Mr. Walters has served I cannot help but wonder if ever he has disagreed (to himself, I’m sure) with the decor changes of any administration?

  6. That's a good question Scott, one that we all would like to know the answer to, but gentleman that he is I doubt Mr. Walters would reveal too much. I saw him interviewed by Brian Lamb on CSPAN's Q&A the week before his retirement. A very good interview (you may still be able to access it on the CSPAN website).

  7. You guys can take the head usher position. I got bigger ambitions

    (*starts humming hail to the chief)

    haha. dreaming and self dilusion is fun

  8. You guys can take the head usher position. I got bigger ambitions

    (*starts humming hail to the chief)

    haha. dreaming and self dilusion is fun

  9. Wonders (off topic) if Derek would mind terribly if we took a little informal poll? I’m curious which you all like better? The Oval Office decor of George H.W. Bush (41) Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush (43)? I can’t decide!

  10. Bush 41 please. I recall it was designed by the late, great Mark Hampton. Maybe his daughter Alexa
    (Architectural Digest AD100 list) can redo the place for the next pres??

  11. I’m going to add the Ford/Carter/Reagan (before the new carpet) Oval Office to that as well. I really liked the Pumpkin colored drapes with the yellow rug. I think that is my favorite, with Bush (41) and Clinton tied for second. Bush 43 is third and Nixon’s being my least favorite of all the Oval Office decor.

  12. I’m with Mimlog – I like the Ford/Carter/Reagan Oval Office – the warm colors and those big hunky Kittinger wing chairs, in that sort-of coral damask.

    One thing I would change would be the window treatments – I would go back to having each window with a seperate set of valances/curtains. Nixon started having all three windows treated together – which is fine – and perfectly appropriate, from a design standpoint – but I just like the idea of emphasizing the architecture of the three seperate windows. I like the way Kennedy – and others – used to hang pictures almost casually on either side of the center window.

    I’d also paint the walls wedgewood blue, like the dining room at Monticello, to make the white woodwork pop out more.

    And we’re gonna use Reagan’s muted Presidential Seal O.O. rug in the new “Furnished-with-American-furniture” GREEN Oval Room,(upstairs) when I live there 🙂

    (would it fit? I really don’t know the comparative sizes of the “Residence” oval rooms and the Oval Office)

  13. Peronally, I liked Bush 41’s decor. It had a very stately and formal appearance to it wihtout being too tacky. It felt very “official” and dignified. very presidential. However I do hate the choice of desk and the rug color is just a bit bland.

    I think I like clinton’s rug the best. It just has this very presidential feel to it. It just looks so “right” for the oval office,

    I also hold a warm spot for rosevelt’s office. It had a very prestigious and regal feel to it, especially with those valences over the windows. Plus I like red.

    Nicon’s just seemed sort of bland to me. The rug was too plain and I dont really like the bright yellow curtains. But I do like his idea of putting tables behind the couches.

  14. Speaking of oval office decor, I just noticed something strange in the picture of President Johnson meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

    Look at the carpet. It appears to be white. I know he temporarily used Kennedy’s red rug and had his own green one, but white?

  15. Speaking of the Oval Office, have any of you wondered how they do the wiring for the two table lamps at the south side of the room?

    You dont see any wires running across to the wall! Do they actually insert the wiring through the rug itself and run the wire below the Oval Carpet?

    I’m quite sure that’s what they do for the Green Room and Red Room, which both have free standing table lamps in the middle of the room. Any ideas?

    But it sure will be a hassle when they have to move the furniture around in the OO during televised addresses etc, not to mention ruining a beautiful carpet by having holes in em!

  16. John in nola,

    I like to the idea of changing to wedgwood blue as well, but did you know Jefferson’s dining room was originally crome yellow? Very much like Dolley Madison’s at Montpelier. The blue came as a 19th century change by the Levy family when they owned Monticello.

    Margaret Truman’s sitting room was wedgwood blue following the Truman Restoration.

  17. I wonder if the lamps could possibly be battery operated? That way no cord required? Just speculation.
    I really like Bush 41’s office. I suppose this is because I love blue.I like the Reagan office toward the end of his term with the new rug.Clinton’s office was very presidential but almost too over the top, though I must admit I love the drapes.
    I also like the idea of having three seperate window treatments as in the Truman/Eisenhower/Kennedy Green draperies. Kennedy’s O.O. was very informal, casual, yet very “in-command.” Just like him, I suppose.

  18. Mimlog –

    I’ve read that book, “Saving Monticello” about the Levy family and their major contributuon to the preservation of the house, but it didn’t really get into wall colors. I didn’t know about the Chrome yellow – it would really be beautiful in the Monticello dining room, flooded (as it is) with light from the skylight. Yellow was a very popular color in those days.

    Lee Changzhi –

    About those pesky wires in the Green Room and the Red Rooms? In several editions of the White House guidebook, you can see lamp wires heading down from a table to a hole in the carpet, then emerging from under the carpet at the side and running toward the wall (and presumably a plug!) Since the rugs in both rooms are reproductions of older rugs – and the rugs aren’t really ever going to used in any other setting, I guess they don’t have a problem with this! Actually, in the 1963 Kennedy guidebook you can even see this being done in the Red Room before they had that carpet copied!
    I have a feeling they gently spread open the warp and weft of the carpet just enough to slip the cord through and then hook up the cord to the lamp socket on site, so they don’t have to have a hole large enough to pass an actual plug through. That could really damage a rug!

    There’s also the option of using a flat plug in the floor in the middle of the room – one that’s completely flush with the surface of the floor, under the grouping of furniture (I’ve used these in jobs before). It’s usually a high quality brass fitting, with a little removable cap, so you can close it off if desired. The actual plug contact is countersunk, so the plug won’t make a bump in the carpet. I suspect they’e done this in the Yellow Oval Room. I’m not real crazy about lamp wires, but somehow it makes them easier to live with when I know they even have to deal with this everyday problem at the White House!

  19. John – Thanks!

    I also saw the picture of the Kennedy Red Room where the wire ran through the carpet.

    I guess it’s possible that they actually do make a hole in the carpet that wont be big enough to actually do any damage to it per sae, and since the OO rug will go to some replica OO somewhere out there, then it will simply be covered up with replica table lamps and sofas.

    Not to mention also the telephones located under the table lamps in the OO. That’s quite alot of holes in the OO carpet!

    But it’s simply neat to see no wiring at all and the lamps lights are on. Cheers to the technicians at the WH!

  20. Well, I’m far, far from Winnipeg, but I do have two little stuffed plush toy figures of “Dudley Doright, of the Royal Canadian Mounties” and his horse, “Horse”. They live on the shelf next to my computer.

    They were my favorite cartoon characters when I was a kid…

  21. Ah, yes- Winnipeg is a hotbed of intrigue, mystery and romance…..and apparently more than one “wingnut” regarding our favourite house. I guess somebody has to live here! Do you think this is the highest number of comments on one topic?? Thanks to Gary Walters’ retirement.

    Just wondering what Derek will post next?? How about something regarding the awful security post on the rooftop. I think it could have been a little more discreet, dont’ you??

  22. Best Wishes to Gary Walters, former Chief Usher, White House.
    Thank you for your service to our goverment, both in the Secret Service and The Ushers Office.
    I welcome Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon to his “post” as Chief Usher, White House. My father was an usher and Asst. Chief Usher
    from !955 through 1976. Secret Service before that. Heck, I can remember calling The White House as a child and my father would sometimes pick up the phone. Things sure have changed. I remember the “good old days”.
    I would enter @ the north gate, and park just shy of the North Portico, when visiting my father. It’s a different world now.

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