White House groundskeeper has served presidents, families and pets in 50 years on the job


Jobs come in all shapes and sizes. 

Some people work in sales, others in retail — but one position might win the prize for coolest reason for going to work every day. 

Meet Dale Haney — chief White House groundskeeper. 

Haney just celebrated 50 years of working at the White House this October, after joining the staff in 1972 during Richard M. Nixon’s presidency.

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Among Haney’s responsibilities: caring for the lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens on the 18 acres of property surrounding the White House, according to the Associated Press.

One of his most interesting responsibilities? 

Picking out the White House Christmas tree each year. 

Some staffers also suggest he’s known as the keeper of the president’s pets — and has been seen walking President Biden’s German shepherd. 

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White House chief usher Gary Walters said he remembers seeing Haney on the South Lawn when the 9/11 terrorist attacks and evacuations were taking place. 

“There was Dale standing with Barney under one arm and Kitty cat under the other,” he told the Associated Press, referring to the pets of then-President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush. 

“He had to find them and was looking for direction on what to do with them.” 

But Haney isn’t the first groundskeeper to put in decades of work at the White House. 

His predecessor, Irv Williams, also worked there for 50 years — he had begun working during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration. 

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Haney received his degree in horticulture from Sandhills College in Pinehurst, North Carolina — and was interning in the gardens at the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, the Associated Press noted. 

That’s when he interviewed for a position as a gardener at the National Park Service — the service that cares for the White House grounds.

In 2008, Haney was promoted to the executive office of the president as the superintendent of the White House grounds. 

After years of promotions, Haney now supervises a staff of 12 gardeners, maintenance workers, electricians and plumbers, according to the Associated Press.

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In an interview with the White House History Quarterly this year, Haney said, “The time has gone by so fast that it really doesn’t feel like 50 years.”

Over the years, Haney has received praise from many first ladies for his work. 

Former first lady Melania Trump said in a statement to the Associated Press that he had a great sense of detail. 

“His meticulous attention to detail always ensures and preserves the beauty of the White House grounds for many to enjoy,” she said. 

Former first lady Michelle Obama said in a letter to Haney that he brought passion and expertise to the difficult task of caring for the White House grounds. 

First lady Jill Biden recently tweeted about the special occasion. 

“He has served 10 administrations,” she wrote, “caring for thousands of flowers and acres of lawns.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a media statement earlier this month that Haney is a wonderful human being. 

“The president and the first lady would like to especially thank and honor White House grounds superintendent Dale Haney,” she said. 

“Dale Haney has seen the grounds through a half-century of growth and improvement, overseeing the care of 500 trees, 5,000 shrubs, thousands of annual flowers, and a productive kitchen garden and acres of lawns.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

In 1972, Dale Haney joined the groundskeeping staff at the White House. Now, 50 years later, he’s being honored for his work and service to the famous home and across many presidencies.

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