She was already in the White House, working three days a week as a volunteer. But family debts had run out of control, her marriage was in trouble and she needed a salary.
Until they fell on hard times, she and her husband - a town planning lawyer - had been leading members of the Democratic Party in the state of Virginia and had energetically raised funds for the Clinton campaign, travelling to Little Rock, Arkansas, for election night in 1992.
Before her marriage, Ms Willey had worked in clerical jobs and as an air hostess with TWA. Marriage had brought money, a life of considerable comfort, and two children. It was said also to have given her a taste for proximity to power; she was described as having "a fascination with the President".
Whatever happened when she went to see Mr Clinton in the Oval Office, Kathleen Willey's career thereafter took a sharp turn for the better. She received a salaried job, was included in two delegations to international conferences at White House expense, and joined a list of the great and the good on the board of a military service organisation.
Her personal life, though, was not so successful. She had returned from her encounter with Mr Clinton to find that her debt-burdened husband had committed suicide.
When her White House job came to an end she continued to be plagued by money difficulties.
She was living quietly near her home town of Richmond, Virginia, until called to testify in the Paula Jones case last year.Reuse content