Dr. George Akers' strong resemblance to President Richard Nixon has earned him curious stares and "has anyone ever told you" conversation starters throughout much of his adult life.
It also embroiled him in a controversy not unlike to the one faced by the couple accused recently of crashing President Barack Obama's first White House state dinner.
Dr. Akers, who at 43 was a newly-installed president of Washington Adventist University at the time, said there was no plan at all when in 1970 he ended up behind the gates of Camp David, the Maryland presidential retreat where President Nixon was writing a speech at the time.
"Our school was having its annual picnic nearby ... and some of the kids said let's go over and chat with the guard," Dr. Akers recalled this week from his Ooltewah home. "The next thing I know I was in the middle of the front seat."
Their plan was to roll up to the U.S. Marine guard shack, wave at the guard with the expectation that they would be turned away. Laughs all around, and a good time would be had by all.
But when the party pulled up in their green Cadillac hard-top convertible, a passenger told the guard, "Our president is ready to go through," Dr. Akers said. "Seeing me and hearing the word president, the guard arched his back, saluted, clicked his heals, pressed a button and waved us through."
It wasn't really a lie, since he was a president of the small Christian university. But Dr. Akers said he immediately told the man driving the car that they needed to turn around. It wasn't long before Secret Service agents swarmed Dr. Akers's vehicle, ordering everyone out.
"Over the (Secret Service) intercom system, somebody said, 'The President's party has just cleared,' and the message came back, 'What do you mean he's just cleared, he is in here taking a nap,'" Dr. Akers said he learned later.
The men spent more than three hours being questioned by authorities. Their car was disassembled and files that detailed all parts of their education and professional life were produced within minutes.
Dr. Akers said they were able to get out of any criminal charges by reminding agents that the guard had welcomed them into the compound, and that he had never claimed to actually be the president.
"It was obvious they were so embarrassed by it they wanted to find a way out," Dr. Akers said. "They wanted to keep it out of the press."
Though the event was an embarrassment to government agents, Dr. Akers thinks he and his hapless friends rendered security agents a painful service.
"In the end, they were actually thankful that we alerted them to a weakness in their security plan," Dr. Akers said. "They had been prepared for all sorts of things ... but not for a look-a-like."
Though Dr. Akers and his wife Imogene, insist there was nothing sinister about his actions, they aren't so sure about the Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the current-day gate crashers.
"This was just a lark with students who were waiting on supper to be served," Mrs. Akers said. "There was really no misrepresentation or deception. ... But I have always quipped that men need to keep their wives nearby, because they wouldn't get in nearly as much trouble."
Dr. Akers retired to Ooltewah in 2004 after 55 years working at Adventist schools.
He's repeated the story often over the years, and though it makes for good laughs, Dr. Akers does regret that he cause shame for the Marine guard who admitted him to the camp. That soldier was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was protecting the president as a reward for meritorious battlefield service.
"I felt so sorry for him, that he blew it in some silly look-a-like situation," Dr. Akers said. "We tried to invite him to the university for a weekend, to be our guest, to let us make up for it somehow, but he wasn't interested in any of that. To think I brought so much pain and disaster to another person, just really hurts me."