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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.

PD: What sorts of tricks did you use? Where they ever successful?

JOAN FELT: Night after night I would go down to his room and we would look at old Watergate film clips and we would talk about it, interview him about it and a couple of times, one time I said "Dad, you realize Deep Throat brought down the Nixon administration?"

And my father just came in like that and said, "I wasn't trying to bring down the Nixon administration I was just trying to do my job."

And we said, "Whoa, did he just say I?"

PD: Why do you think he spoke with Woodward about Watergate?

JOAN FELT: His big talent and what he had been trained to do was to investigate crimes and that was what he was trying to do in the Watergate scandal, investigate that crime and get to the bottom of it.

PD: Was it unusual for him to not play by the rules, that is, to go outside of the government with information?

JOAN FELT: I would say this was really out of character for my dad. He was a play-by-the-rules kind of guy and it put him through great grief and great turmoil because he wanted to protect the FBI, but he wanted to protect the American people more. And he wanted the truth to be told, he wanted the truth to be uncovered. That was his job. That was his primary job and so he did it but it caused him a great deal of agonizing all along the way.

PD: What were his emotions before he publicly identified himself?

JOAN FELT: He was worried about it up until the night before. He kept saying, "I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do." And both John O'Connor and I had to keep reassuring him that the world was going to receive and would approve of Deep Throat.

PD: What did Felt say about Deep Throat and that period in history?

JOAN FELT: Even my father was proud of what Deep Throat had done. He referred to Deep Throat in the third person. He'd say, "I'm not Deep Throat but if I were I wouldn't be ashamed of it. I think what Deep Throat was trying to do was to make sure the American people knew the truth."

PD: What changed when you knew your father was Deep Throat?

JOAN FELT: All of us in the family have taken a greater interest in American history and a greater interest in what our duties and responsibilities are as people living in democracy because of my father's role in American history: He put his whole life on the line in order to preserve our democracy.

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