Chief of Protocol Leonore Annenberg said yesterday she is thinking about resigning from the $50,112-a-year post to which she was confirmed on May 5 because she cannot spend enough time with her husband, the millionaire publisher of Triangle Publications and former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Annenberg.
"I adore my job, but my husband comes first," she said. "I do have a problem because Walter never can come to Washington as much as we both would like. He wants me to be with him more."
"That's exactly correct," Walter Annenberg said when reached a few minutes later at his Philadelphia office. "It's too difficult for me to be running back and forth to Washington. It's been a delightful experience for her and I know she's been a wonderful chief of protocol. But do I want her back? In a word, yes."
The rumor that Lee Annenberg, who also holds the rank of ambassador, might quit by the end of the year has been circulating throughout official and social Washington for several weeks. One version had her frustrated by the government bureaucracy, another had Walter Annenberg unhappy about having to share her with the world of diplomacy.
During the week she lives alone at the Watergate Hotel, on weekends she joins her husband in Philadelphia, often making the trip by train. When nominated by President Reagan last February she said her husband would accompany her to Washington and run his business from here and Philadelphia.
But yesterday she confirmed that it hasn't been easy being separated from her husband, to whom she has been married 30 years, though she said she was sorry the rumor about the possible resignation has gotten around.
"I'm still here, obviously, and I will be until I talk to the White House. It would be much better to see what I decide to do, what the White House decides and what we're going to do about it."
Meanwhile, she said she still has not discussed her plight with the other two people who count most, Nancy Reagan and the president, who will be the Annenbergs' guests once again on New Year's at their Palm Springs desert home.
The movie scene was of the young woman sitting on her parents' front porch waiting for the newspaper. When it came and she saw the story that told of her having an abortion, she ran down the street, grabbing the neighbors' papers.
"Boy, I wish I could have done that," National Security Adviser Richard Allen told his wife. They were watching the world premiere of "Absence of Malice" at the Kennedy Center Sunday night, the height of the flap about Allen's involvement in Nancy Reagan's interview with a Japanese women's magazine.
Out of the pocketbooks of babes has come the opportunity to see the million-dollar face lift First Lady Nancy Reagan and First Decorator Ted Graber have given the White House living quarters.
Michelle Booth, 12, of Alexandria, and Barbara Abernethy, 11, of Steubenville, Ohio, each sent the Reagans $1 of their weekly allowances last March, never dreaming it would buy them an entre'e to the most exclusive house tour of the year. Yet that's what happened: Though the public and press have been barred from tomorrow night's unveiling, donors -- whether of $1 or $70,000 -- to the refurbishing fund have been invited by the first lady to see her handiwork.
Booth, now a sixth-grader at St. Mary's Elementary School, wrote the first lady that she heard "you needed money to redecorate. I don't have much, but thought it would be nice to help out . . . I would like to see what it looks like when your sic done."
Abernethy, also a sixth-grader, wrote Nancy Reagan that she wanted to help, too, and hoped she would be able to visit the Reagans someday when she came to Washington. Her invitation to do just that arrived one day a few weeks ago while she was home from school for lunch. "Eating pizza," remembers her mother, Grace Abernethy. "She got it all over the envelope."
Booth, whose father Ray Booth is a sergeant in the Air Force and stationed at Bolling Air Force Base, has a new dress for the party: a white sailor style. Abernethy will wear a hand-me-down black velvet skirt with an eggshell Victorian blouse.
"We're practicing Reaganomics," says Grace Abernethy.
"We all have the potential to achieve goals that are important to us. And we all have the capacity to make the world a better place in some large or small way. When we teach our children the difference between right and wrong, we have achieved; when we create a plan and dedicate ourselves to increasing our company's productivity, we have achieved."
That's Dwight L. Chapin, publisher of Success magazine, writing in his column about how you can be an Achiever of the Year even if the magazine doesn't name you the Achiever of the Year, and reward you by putting you on its January cover.
Besides being appointments secretary to former president Richard Nixon, Chapin's achievements have included making a lot of money for W. Clement Stone Enterprises, even before serving time for lying to a federal Watergate grand jury.
"He took companies that were losing money and turned them around. He's a brain," said Stone in 1976, explaining why he paid Chapin $45,000 a year even though Chapin was in prison at the time and not allowed to work for money.
Times have changed. Success spokeswoman Jean Hart says an achiever, by the magazine's definition, isn't necessarily someone who has made a lot of money, but rather someone who has taken a stand and done something others can look to for inspiration.
"It seems there's a recession now and people are really trying to find values in their lives," says Hart. "They're looking for leadership."