Washington Franklyn "Lyn" Nofziger, the rumpled and irreverent conservative who served Ronald Reagan as press secretary and political adviser, died of cancer Monday. He was 81.
Nofziger, who joined Reagan's ranks early in the political career of the actor-turned-politician, headed the White House political office during the first year of the Reagan presidency and then quit to form a political consulting and lobbying firm.
Asked why he was leaving the White House, Nofziger replied, "I don't like government, it's just that simple."
Bombay gin, outrageous puns and fierce loyalty to Reagan and conservative Republican principles were Nofziger hallmarks. His caustic wit made him a favorite among some reporters who covered Reagan as governor and president and on his various campaigns.
In a town where men wear expensive suits, Nofziger stood out in his rumpled sports coats and slacks. His trademark was a tie with a picture of Mickey Mouse, a visual statement of what he thought about Washington.
Nofziger was the aide who announced to the world that Reagan had been shot in the 1981 assassination attempt by John W. Hinckley Jr. Nofziger's statement, to reporters in the driveway of George Washington University Hospital, blew away assurances by other White House officials that Reagan had escaped unscathed.
The Nofziger wit and camaraderie did not disguise the fact that he was a bare-knuckled political partisan. During his year in the Reagan White House, he saw one of his principal responsibilities as rooting Democrats out of the federal government and replacing them with Republican loyalists.