Bob Nance, a World War II bombardier who later became a legend in California government as a blunt-spoken public information officer, died on Sept. 12. He was 92.
Nance was one of a handful of public information officers – “flacks” in the vernacular – who earned the respect of journalists for his candor and his knowledge of government.
“Nance insisted that state officials be factual and honest in communicating with the news media,” noted Pete Weisser, a friend an former colleague. “He was a strong advocate of media access to state news and the public’s right to know.”
Nance served in the Eighth Air Force during World War II, flying bombing missions over Nazi-occupied territory, including two missions on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was a career Air Force officer, serving later in the Korean War. After retiring from the military, he went to work for California government.
During the early 1960s he was a top PIO at the then-Division of Highways, later rechristened as CalTrans. He later led press office functions at the California Highway Patrol. During the 1970s, he served as press secretary at the State Health Department, working with such officials as State Health Director Jerome Lackner, M.D. and Mario Obledo, secretary of the Health and Welfare Agency.
Nance was a longtime resident of Vacaville. His wife, Louise, a teacher from Eagle Pass, Texas, died in 1997.