When Joan Felt opened the front door to her father?s Santa Rosa home on May 31, 2005 she unveiled a secret her father had kept for 33 years.
Aged, hunched and with fading memory, Mark Felt confirmed through Joan that he was ?Deep Throat,? source of the Washington Post?s historic investigation of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon?s resignation in 1974.
The announcement changed her father?s life, Joan said.
?Finally he could put the question to rest as to whether or not he did the right thing,? she said this week in an interview with The Press Democrat.
But the revelation did not come easily for Felt, who up until the night before going public, expressed concern that Deep Throat might just be a secret better kept than exposed.
Still, when the door opened, Felt waved and greeted the throng of reporters anxious to hear the story from the source himself.
The fame turned out to be longer lived than Felt or his family imagined. Despite failing healthy and several serious bouts of illness, Felt lived for three years after the revelation. He died Dec 18, 2008 at his home, surrounded by family.
A memorial service will be held today at 3 p.m. at the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa.
Reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein will be there to speak about Felt, their key source and the man who helped the famed reporters navigate the biggest story of their careers and a key chapter of American history.
PRESS DEMOCRAT: How did Mark Felt react to the speculation that he was Deep Throat?
JOAN FELT: For years there was speculation that my father was Deep Throat and for years my family had always discounted it because he always said he was not. And so every year at the anniversary of Watergate there would be phone calls from reporters from all around the world and we just got used to this and didn?t even take any of those calls or agree to interviews. But that changed (in 1999) when Bob Woodward came to visit my father.
PD: What happened then?
JOAN FELT: I thought it was just another reporter coming to the house on the anniversary of Watergate and so I asked him to wait for a moment and I went down and asked my dad if he would see Bob Woodward from the Washington Post and to my surprise Dad said, ?Yes, send him right in.?
I thought this is unusual because he didn?t usually receive reporters. Bob went in and they had a long conversation and we all went out and did shopping together and he and Bob went to lunch together.
PD: Did that meeting mean anything to you?
JOAN FELT: That was a major revelation, the first time that really I started to think, my gosh maybe my own father really is this very important and famous person in history.
PD: Did your father identify himself to you as Deep Throat after that meeting?
JOAN FELT: I kept trying to convince (Bob Woodward) to confirm that my dad was Deep Throat and that if he was, that (my father) and Bob would write a book together. But he honored the confidentiality agreement that they had had so many years back and he wouldn?t tell me and in fact we had tried to trick (my father) into telling us that that was who he was.