Lyn Nofziger, the blunt-spoken former reporter with the Mickey Mouse ties
and familiar cigar who served Ronald Reagan as governor and president, died
of cancer in his home in Falls Church, Va. He was 81.
Services were planned Saturday in Washington, D.C. There will be a graveside
service at 11:30 a.m. at the Arlington National Cemetery, and a 1 p.m.
service at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Va.
Nofziger had been battling cancer for several months, but his spirits
remained high, said Carol Dahmen, Nofziger’s great-niece.
“I think the family members are doing as well as can be expected. He has
been battling cancer since last summer. I went to see him last August, and I
knew it would probably be the last time I saw him. We had a good
conversation. He was kind enough to give me one of his Mickey Mouse ties,”
Franklyn Nofziger was born in Bakersfield on June 8, 1924, where he worked
on his high-school paper. He served three years in the Army during World War
II and attended San Jose State University. Seeking a journalism career,
Nofziger wound up working for the Copley News Service in Washington, D.C.,
where he spent 16 years as a reporter and editor.
In 1966, Nofziger left journalism and served as press secretary on Ronald
Reagan’s first campaign for governor. After Reagan was elected–he defeated
Democrat Pat Brown, who was seeking a third term–Nofziger served Reagan as
communications director for the next two years, and divided his time between
Richard Nixon’s White House and Gov. Reagan’s administration.
Nofziger was liked by reporters, but there was little doubt that he was a
ferocious partisan dedicated to protecting Reagan. He also was an inveterate
wordsmith and punster, and loved to tell long tales culminating in a
tortured punch line.
“In 1976, we were with Reagan, who was going to make a formal announcement
about his campaign (for president), and he was ready to come on stage,” said
Doug Willis, former political writer for the Associated Press. “But Nofziger
was there surrounded by reporters, telling us this long complicated story
that ended in a pun. Reagan was ready to go (on stage), but he waited until
“Lyn said what he thought, all the time. Sometimes that did upset Reagan
supporters,” Willis added.
Nofziger opened a lobbying office after he left the Reagan White House, and
was convicted in 1988 of illegally lobbying for several clients. The
following year, a federal appeals court ruled that prosecutors had failed to
show that Nofziger knowingly committed a crime his conviction was tossed
Nofziger, who wrote four western novels, kept his eye on politics until late
in life, and set up his own Web site, www.lynnofziger.com.
“The odds are you’ve never heard of me, which is all right because I’ve
probably never heard of you,” Nofziger wrote on his home page. Nofziger, a
conservative Republican who needed little excuse to go after Democrats,
described himself as a “right-wing independent who is a registered
Republican because there isn’t any place else to go.”
On the Web site, Nofziger took on everything from Samuel Alito to Arnold
Schwarzenegger. “Arnie has been two places in his life–Austria and
California,” he wrote. “Austria is a socialist nation. California is
populated and run by loonies.
But Dahmen, a Democrat, remembers the personal side of Nofziger as well as
“He taught me how to drink gin and smoke a cigar,” she said. “I really