AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Franklyn “Lyn” Nofziger, the rumpled and irreverent conservative who served President Reagan as press secretary and political adviser, died of cancer Monday. He was 81. Nofziger died at his home in Falls Church, Va., said Eldin Girdner, a family friend. Former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a printed statement Monday: “I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Lyn Nofziger’s death. Lyn was with us from the gubernatorial campaign in 1965 through the early White House days, and Ronnie valued his advice – and good humor – as much as anyone’s.” 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. “He was a great big garrulous guy who was very serious about his politics and very serious about Ronald Reagan,” Michael Deaver, Reagan’s deputy chief of staff, said Monday. “He was sort of the keeper of the flame. He was fun to be around,” Deaver said. “Reagan would light up when he came into the room.” Conservative columnist George F. Will once described Nofziger as “Sancho Panza” to Reagan’s Don Quixote. Asked why he was leaving the White House, Nofziger replied, “I don’t like government; it’s just that simple.” His determined irreverence extended to the Reagans. “I’m not a social friend of the Reagans,” he told an interviewer. “That’s by their choice and by mine. They don’t drink enough.” 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. 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. When Reagan won the White House, Nofziger refused to join other aides in calling their boss “Mr. President.” To him, Reagan was always “Ronnie.” Nofziger was the aide who announced to the world that Reagan had been shot in the 1981 assassination attempt by John W. Hinckley Jr. The Nofziger wit and camaraderie did not disguise the fact that he was a bare-knuckled political partisan. He had served on the Republican National Committee and as an aide to President Nixon. According to John Dean, Nofziger helped Nixon put together his infamous White House “enemies list.” Nofziger worked as a newspaper reporter and editor and then as Washington correspondent for James Copley’s chain of California papers before he teamed up with Reagan in 1966 in the former actor’s bid to be California governor. After that successful campaign, Nofziger spent 21 months in Sacramento as Reagan’s press secretary. While his distaste for government made him unwilling to be part of anyone’s bureaucracy for long, Nofziger never was far from a Reagan campaign. His unorthodox manner grated on Nancy Reagan, a fact Nofziger confirmed for any reporter who asked. But in the days after the president was shot, one of the messages Nancy Reagan received read: “The president was not the only one. You done good, too.” It was signed, “Lyn.” In 1988, after he’d left the Reagan administration to capitalize on his Washington ties, Nofziger was convicted of illegally lobbying for two defense contractors and a labor union. A year later, a federal appeals court threw out the conviction. Born in Bakersfield, Nofziger is survived by his wife, a daughter and two grandchildren. Another daughter died in 1989.