A Passion For Life And Its Adventures
Linda Van Kessler
It’s one thing to want to work in the White House, it’s quite another to do it . . . and to do it consistently.
Linda Van Kessler is one of those rare individuals who makes up her mind she wants to do something and she doesn’t let go until she’s accomplished her goal.
As an eighth grader, the then Linda Beversluis was on vacation in Washington, D. C., saw Capitol Hill and the White House and decided she wanted to work there. Sure enough, after high school she turned down a scholarship offer and went to work with Donald Rumsfeld (everyone called him Rummy then, they still do, she says) on the Richard Nixon campaign. She did so well that she was invited to the first Nixon inauguration. She later went to work for Howard Baker, the Republican Senator from Tennessee and worked with him throughout the Watergate hearings. Her parents were able to see her on television as she handed papers to Senator Baker and did other work during the hearings. Her other duties including doing research and listening to the now famous Watergate tapes. She got to interview Bob Strauss, head of the Democratic Party. Later, at Fred Thompson’s home, the then Minority Counsel, they would play cards till midnight and then go back to work and work all night. “We’d sometimes get a chance to grab a quick nap in the afternoon,” she says, “and then it was back to the same old grind. It was a very intense time . . . right up until the hearings ended. It was hard, hard work . . . but we all loved it.”
She regrets the sometimes bitter divisions on Capitol Hill today. “Back then, everyone was respectful. There were no scandals . . . and no matter what your political affiliation, you still respected the White House and the man who sat in that chair. Today it seems like it’s a free-for-all and everyone is out to destroy the reputation of your opponents. There doesn’t seem to be much respect.”
After the Watergate hearings ended she went to work for a New Jersey Congressman - mostly screening nominees for the Military Academies. When the Democrats came into control of Congress there was a mass exodus . . . but Linda used her connections with “Rummy” who recommened her for a staff position with President Gerald Ford. She remembers making the journey to the White House for her interview in a driving rain storm, could not get a taxi, had no umbrella and arrived looking like a drowned rat. She asked to reschedule the interview but staff said not to worry . . . be comfortable. She managed to pull herself together so well that she not only passed the interview but was hired by President Ford. There were 40 applicants for the positions. She was 19 years old . . .and they chose her.
She had also been offered a job by Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticutt. Apparently, this young girl had made quite an impression on the D.C. leadership.
She then passed all the security checks so was given a White House pass, and soon became a Staff Assistant to President Ford. One of her many duties was to do background checks on nominees for Cabinet as well as Secretary and UnderSecretary positions. President Ford diid not want any embarrassing background information to be overlooked. After her screening the FBI cleared the candidates. There were no embarrassments.
After President Ford left office she was invited to join him in Palm Springs as one of only 10 staffers. She was responsible for his calendar and itineraries. An example of the high regard in which the Fords held Linda, she was always invited to the annual party the Fords staged for present and past staffers.
Later, Linda would go to work for both Dr. Billy Graham and Dr. Robert Schuller. With Dr. Graham she went on 18 Crusades all over the world. She became good friends with both Dr. Graham and his wife. Her duties included organizing receptions. She would even schedule her vacations so she could volunteer for Dr. Graham’s Crusades.
Later, she received an invitation for lunch with Dr. Robert Schuller. Dr. Schuller hired her as Director of Scheduling and Press, the same position she had held with President Ford.
She worked for two years with Dr. Schuller, organizing, doing press work, helping in the planning and building of the Crystal Cathedral. She’d schedule rallies, dinners . . . accompanied Dr. Schuller to Washington and introduced him to the movers and shakers. During her career she met President Ronal Reagan, she knew President Nixon quite well, she still has many contacts with ‘the old gang.’
After her governmental service and religious service work was done she opened her own Booking and Management Entertainment agency in Beverly Hills.She’d book her clients for talk shows, media tours, etc. During this era, she suffered an injury in a traffic accident and wound up marrying the doctor who treated her, Dr. Horia Schwartz. They were married for 17.5 years before he passed away.
In 2001 she retired to Encintias and soon married Charles Van Kessler, who had been a good friend of the family for years.
Today, she and Charles own and operate a flourishing Natural Food and Vitamin business, “Passion 4 Life,” which serves all of San Diego County but is located in North County.
For his part, Charles Van Kessler acknowledges . . .“She has a brilliant success record in boththe government and religious life. Linda and I work wonderfully well together. We think alike, we have a strong faith in our mission, and, we have a passion for Passion 4 Life!"
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