‘Charlie’s Angels’ Remember a Friend and Colleague

Posted April 15, 2008 at 5:41pm

If there was one thing that mattered to Linda McIntosh as much as helping people in need, it was having a good time.

So it was fitting that McIntosh, who was a staffer for former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Texas), insisted that her last weekend was, in true “Charlie’s Angels” style, a bit of a party.

McIntosh, who died of cancer on April 7 at age 64, was feted by close friends at a reunion of Wilson’s famous female staffers on a recent weekend in Fox, Ark.

McIntosh and her former colleagues, dubbed “Charlie’s Angels” in part because of the Congressman’s reputation as a hard- partying playboy, came together from across the country to drink Champagne in the hot tub and reminisce about years spent working — and playing — on the Hill.

“That was like her final hurrah,” McIntosh’s daughter, Mary Sullivan, said about the weekend, adding that McIntosh and her friends donned their “Charlie’s Angels” bathrobes throughout the trip. “It was like something from a movie. It was such an incredible weekend for her.”

McIntosh joined Wilson’s office as a caseworker in 1983 after working for then-Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (R-Va.). Many of Wilson’s “Angels,” who were once described by journalist Molly Ivins as “gorgeous women … who were smart as hell,” shared a close bond and maintained friendships long after leaving Capitol Hill.

“When you become one of ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ so to speak, it’s almost like you’re part of a sorority,” said former “Angel” Peggy Phillips Love, who hosted the weekend reunion at her cabin. “It’s like you are all sisters, and it’s amazing how we stayed together over the years.”

McIntosh’s commitment to serving those in need — especially from Wilson’s district in Texas — was embodied by her work ethic. Elaine Cornett, who worked as Wilson’s press secretary, said McIntosh was “hands down one of the best case workers a Congressional office has ever seen.”

“I have never known anyone who just got so passionate about helping when she saw something that wasn’t right,” Cornett said.

McIntosh spent much of her time on Wilson’s staff working directly with his constituents in Texas. One of the highlights of her job, friends said, was canvassing the rural district in an RV “mobile office,” where she quickly developed a loyal following of locals who would greet her with cookies and quilting advice.

“She loved getting out there, talking to people, and everybody loved her,” Cornett said. “She had people who would come to that mobile office just to see her. They didn’t care if Charlie was there — they came to see Linda.”

Rick Love, who met McIntosh when he married Peggy Phillips Love in 2001, said McIntosh’s intelligence and wisdom designated her as a clear leader within the group of strong, motivated women who worked on Wilson’s staff.

“Those girls each had specific talents and understanding and insights into different issues on the Hill, and they weren’t as concerned about who got the credit as they were about solving the problem,” he said. “Linda was the catalyst to the attitude of the group, which made it function as well as it did.”

Sullivan, who followed in her mother’s footsteps by joining Wilson’s staff in the 1990s, said McIntosh’s dedication to public service set an example for her and her sister.

“Before we ever saw stories about Charlie’s wild side, we had already known and seen firsthand all the hard work he would do with his constituents,” she said. “He brought together strong, smart women, and for a lot of these women, it was just a launching pad to go on to do really amazing things.”

After leaving the Hill in 1995, McIntosh moved to the Ozarks to continue to help those less fortunate, handling casework for an attorney and volunteering with the local hospice. Friends said McIntosh’s deep capacity to care for others was evident in her work and friendships.

“She could listen to people and very softly guide them to their own answers, their own decisions, while being pretty much unobserved,” Rick Love said. “She could care about others across the board.”

Whether it was learning to play the banjo just because she loved the music or dancing two-step in turquoise cowboy boots, McIntosh demonstrated a passion for life and flair for fun that inspired her friends.

“She didn’t have a mean bone in her body,” Peggy Phillips Love said. “[She] really just liked to get high on life.”