William "Tim" McIntyre, a Sahuarita resident and former Secret Service agent who was 30 feet from President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated, died Sunday. He was 84.
He will be laid to rest in Mesa on Thursday alongside his wife, Wanda Lee, and his daughter, Theresa.
McIntyre had been with the Secret Service about nine months when Kennedy was killed Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. McIntyre, then 28, was assigned to the follow-up car behind the presidential limousine.
According to his statement to the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination, McIntyre was standing on the left running board behind agent Clint Hill when he heard three shots fired within five seconds. He saw the second shot hit Kennedy in the neck and the third strike his head. Hill ran to the limo and shoved Jacqueline Kennedy back inside after she climbed onto the trunk.
McIntyre's son, Mark, said his father spent 20 years in the Secret Service, providing protection to presidents Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He also protected President Reagan while he was governor of California.
Mark McIntyre, who lives in Sahuarita, said his father was a quiet man who took his job seriously and was good at assessing people.
"He was a man of high standards and I always looked up to him for the honest person that he was," he said.
Tim McIntyre spent four years in the Army as a flight instructor. He was working in the animal husbandry program at the University of California-Davis when he was recruited to join the Secret Service in Washington state in 1962.
"Basically, they gave him a car and a badge and a .38 snub nose and said you have Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington. So he ran down a bunch of check forgers and counterfeit cases and stuff like that for a little while and was transferred to Washington, D.C., during Kennedy’s administration," McIntyre said.
Growing up with a father in the Secret Service meant moving every two to three years. Mark, his parents and his three siblings were living in the San Francisco area when his father was assigned to the White House for a second time in 1975, this time as assistant agent in charge.
"He was with them every day, he wrote their itineraries. He said it was very rare that any agents go to the White House twice," McIntyre said.
With the exception of Johnson, his father liked the presidents he worked for.
"What he liked about Ford is that he could climb into the limousine with him and sit next to him in the backseat and he was a regular guy," McIntyre said. "He would ask my dad, 'How’s your life?' He really liked that."
As for Kennedy, McIntyre said his father was criticized in the 1990s when he shared stories with journalist Seymour Hersh for Hersh's book "The Dark Side of Camelot."
McIntyre told Hersh he felt guilty for violating federal law for allowing unsavory characters, including prostitutes, into the White House to visit Kennedy.
"While he held him in high regard as a president and a good negotiator with foreign countries, the Cuban Missile Crisis, that kind of thing, personally he was kind of put in the middle a few times by the president and he didn’t appreciate it," McIntyre said. Other agents expressed similar feelings.
McIntyre was often in the background of photos of presidents and famous people, including Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and actors Omar Sharif and Annette Bening.
Secret Service training is a lot different now than it used to be, Mark McIntyre said. Today, agents have an academy, he said.
"My dad didn’t have that, he just learned by the seat of his pants," he said.
He remembers his dad talking about how difficult the job was, especially at outdoor events when people were eager to shake the president's hand.
"He said he’d wake up the next day just feeling bruised and his body aching and his ribs hurting because everybody would be trying to press on to the president and the Secret Service would be pushing them back," he said.
When his children were older, McIntyre said his father talked openly about the Kennedy assassination and debunked many of the conspiracies and myths surrounding it.
For example, Jacqueline Kennedy wasn't trying to retrieve her husband's skull when she climbed onto the back of the car, he said. The Secret Service agents also didn't spent the night before the assassination partying. His father was on a C-130 guarding the presidential limousine, McIntyre said.
Over the years, Tim McIntyre cracked counterfeiting cases and held several assistant Agent in Charge positions. When he retired in 1983, he was the Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle office.
He then lived in the Redding, California, area for a time, working on his cabin, fishing and traveling. He fell in love with Arizona while visiting two sons. He lived in Chandler for a time.
His father moved to Sahuarita about nine months ago after his health began to decline. He was living with Mark when he died.