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Ellen Clayton Garwood, Supporter of Nicaraguan Contras, Dead at 89

March 22, 1993

AUSTIN (AP) _ Ellen Clayton Garwood, who donated $2.5 million to conservative groups backing Nicaraguan Contras and later testified in behalf of former White House aide Oliver North, has died. She was 89.

Mrs. Garwood died Saturday, apparently of natural causes, while doing her daily swim in a pool at her apartment complex, authorities said.

Her donations to the Nicaraguan Contras, which made up the bulk of $3 million raised by the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty, earned her personal thanks from President Reagan.

Mrs. Garwood was the daughter of State Department official Will Clayton, who in 1947 worked on the Marshall Plan that helped save Greece and Turkey from communism after World War II.

During North’s trial in 1989, Mrs. Garwood testified that her father’s work was an inspiration to her aiding the Contras.

″I felt if Greece and Turkey were threatened, how much more the people of Nicaragua,″ she said.

Mrs. Garwood testified that North described ″desperate″ Contra needs to her, but she asserted firmly that he never directly asked for or received money from her while he was a White House aide.

She said she had met North a half dozen times and that he had briefed her on the Contra fight on Aug. 23, 1985, before she signed a check.

″Colonel North showed me a map of Central America. ... He said, ’This is a desperate situation for the freedom fighters. I’m not asking you for money. As a member of the government and the National Security Council, I cannot ask you for money,‴ she testified.

Mrs. Garwood said she later wrote a check for $75,000 to fund-raiser Carl Channell, who had been enlisted by North.

She donated to the cause at other times, including one instance in which she gave Retired Gen. John Singlaub $65,000 for a helicopter to evacuate Contra soldiers in need of medical attention.

In April 1986, Mrs. Garwood met with Reagan on a trip to Washington that resulted in her giving $2 million to the Contras, largely through donations of stock certificates.

Mrs. Garwood’s husband, John, died in 1987 at the age of 90.

She is survived by her son, William, and three sisters.

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