Walter W. Jenkins, 67, a former top aide to Lyndon B. Johnson who resigned his White House position in October of 1964 after disclosure of his arrest on a morals charge at the old YMCA building in downtown Washington, died Nov. 23 at St. David's Hospital in Austin, Tex. He had been hospitalized since having a stroke on June 27.
Mr. Jenkins joined Johnson's staff in 1939, when Johnson was serving in the House of Representatives. With the exception of Army service during World War II and an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1951, he remained with Johnson through his years as Senate majority leader, as vice president and through the first year of his presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
He was one of Johnson's closest and most loyal advisers -- he named one of his sons Lyndon -- and even after his resignation three weeks before the 1964 presidential election, he remained a personal friend of the Johnson family.
In Austin yesterday, Johnson's widow, Lady Bird Johnson, said Mr. Jenkins "was a close friend and a capable person. He is one of the dearest people I know. His relationship with Lyndon was a long, fond and dear one. I can't say enough about his loyalty and ability."
At the time of Mr. Jenkins' arrest with another man in the men's restroom at the old YMCA building on G Street NW, Mrs. Johnson said he "had reached the end point of exhaustion in dedicated service to his country."
Since leaving Washington, Mr. Jenkins had been a management consultant and operated a construction company in Austin.
A native of Jolly, Tex., he graduated from the University of Texas and joined Johnson's staff in Washington shortly thereafter.
During their years together, Johnson came to use him as a sounding board on a variety of issues and eventually the two came to think alike. Mr. Jenkins often was able to anticipate what Johnson was about to say or do. He worked long hours, but he generally sought anonymity and he was regarded as a mild mannered and low-key chief of staff.
During Johnson's vice presidency, Mr. Jenkins served as his top administrative assistant with duties that ranged from supervision of his staff to keeping tabs on Texas and national politics.
When Kennedy was assassinated Mr. Jenkins moved to the White House as the president's chief assistant with overall responsibility for day-to-day functioning of the operation.
"Walter, you're my vice president in charge of everything," Johnson once told him.
Mr. Jenkins' arrest, officially on a disorderly conduct charge, was not publicized until more than a week after it had occurred, initially because no one in the media recognized his name on the police blotter.
Fearful that it eventually would be disclosed, Washington lawyers Clark Clifford and Abe Fortas, who were principal unofficial advisers of Johnson, visited the editors of Washington's then three newspapers, The Washington Post, The Washington Star and The Daily News, asking that the story not be published.
Before they received an answer, United Press International moved a story about it on its wires and the matter became public knowledge.
Within a few days it was disclosed that Mr. Jenkins had been arrested on a similar charge in 1959 that had never been publicized.
This prompted criticism of White House security procedures, but an investigation revealed there had been no compromise of national security.
Mr. Jenkins is survived by his wife, Margie, of Austin; two daughters, Beth Jenkins and Ann Mauel; four sons, Walter, John, Joe and Lyndon, and 12 grandchildren.