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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Fine Tribute to Lyn Nofziger From a Fellow Journalist; Imagine the Fun He Would Have With the Date of His Services

The following was written by Thomas Cheplick, a journalist in San Francisco. It is posted here with permission of the author:

"I knew Lyn Nofziger for two years starting in 2004 working with him intimately on numerous book proposals, articles, research tasks, and obtaining the occasional food snack.

"Lyn was born in Bakersfield, California on June 8th, 1924 when California was still farm country. He was part of the greatest generation, though he disdained that title. He thought all generations had their great parts and their poor parts. On this regard, he was very wrong.

"Lyn was one of the great men of the greatest generation, the generation that did not get to enjoy the 1920s but had to suffer through the 1930s and then fight and defeat fanatical Germans and Japanese.

"When Lyn was born in 1924, America was then only 138 years old. The country had just come off of the panic and deprivation of World War I. Lyn did not come from a rich family; he came from a big family.

"He grew up first in Bakersfield and then in the San Fernando Valley on the outskirts of Los Angeles. There must have been something in Southern California's water back then because it was Lyn's generation of Southern Californians (Richard Nixon, Michael Deaver, et al) who stormed Washington, DC and brought the concept of 'limited government' back into vogue.

"It's interesting to note that Lyn's uncle, Ed Nofziger, was the famous 1930's animal cartoonist who later went on to become a prominent pacifist and liberal.

"What many people liked and some disliked about Lyn was his steel. Some interns interpreted his devil-may-care honesty as simply a sign that Lyn did not suffer fools gladly. But it wasn't that.

"Someone who does not suffer fools gladly is not inclined to be forgiving or compassionate. Lyn was forgiving, he was compassionate, and above all he always had your back. 'You can do stupid things that I may not like but I'll still be there' seemed to me to be his motto.

"Needless to say (and after reading a couple books on Reagan's rise to the White House), that ethos probably was why Lyn was out-maneuvered by some of his Reagan compatriots in the early 1980s. He had the backs or protected people he should not have.

"What I most admired about him though was his independence. And he was independent. He started out as a journalist and maybe that is where he got that bold confidence. He always said and wrote that he was a conservative first, a Republican second.

"He loved dearly those two core tenets of conservatism: freedom and patriotism. Indeed, his love for freedom was so great, it was why sometimes he was seen on the side of the dreaded ACLU and against a constitutional amendment out-lawing gay marriage.

"It is also important to know about Lyn that he was not a publicity-hound. He did not seek to generate publicity about himself. A lot of his good friends are today's most powerful Washington officials, but he was never a showboat about those connections. He didn't care what power they had.

"Such was his modesty that many people nowadays think Lyn was one of Ronald Reagan's many strategists, just another suit in the closet. Not true.

* It was Lyn who created and manned all the Reagan Political Action Committees that nearly brought Gerald Ford to his knees in the 1976 primary and ensured Reagan's ultimate triumph in the Republican 1980 presidential primary.

* It was both Reagan and Lyn who in the 1970s finessed the Republican party into a more right-wing force, using the Reagan PAC money to finance the defeat of many big-government Republican incumbents.

They were so successful that at one point Ford's Chief of Staff, Dick Cheney blamed all of Gerald Ford's Republican base problems on Lyn). Indeed, it was Lyn who trained and brought on board one of the Republican Party's greatest strategists, Lee Atwater.

* It was Lyn who nursed the master Republican tactician Ed Rollins.

* It was Lyn who guided and hired Mitch Daniels, President Bush's former Director of the Office of Budget and Management and now Governor of Indiana.

* It was Lyn who helped Reagan win that second debate with Mondale in 1984. (Lyn did not help Reagan with the first one. The forgettable one, which Mondale won.)

* It was Lyn who got the one-stop shop for conservative ideals, The Heritage Foundation's first big donor, the Coors family. You can read about the epsiode in his book titled appropriately enough, 'Nofziger.'

"Many people just do not see how crucial he was to the Republican party's successes today. But he was so crucial. As Gerald Strober, co-author of the massive 'The Reagan Presidency: An Oral History of the Era,' said:

"'Lyn is one of the most underrated people who ever served Ronald Reagan. He was his first press person. Nofziger was the guy. The guy most responsible for Reagan's successes … he had a very good sense of Ronald Reagan's strengths and weakness.

"'Affable, shrewd. A kind of throwback. I! f you look at the last few elections, the top-dog political handlers have been self absorbed. Nofziger is different. A throwback. The old-time political operative with a very good sense of his candidate and himself. Don't know if we will ever see the likes of him again.'

"We won't. Lyn Nofziger was special. I will miss him dearly."

So will we all.

UPDATE: Services Set for Saturday

Services for Lyn will be held Saturday, April 1. Lyn would chuckle with delight and tell us he will be back because of that date for his internment

It would be wonderful to see legions of Washington-area conservatives turning out to pay tribute to one of our most unsung yet deserving heroes.

Here are the details:

At 11:00 a.m. there will be an assembly at Murphy's Funeral Home, 1102 West Broad Street, Falls Church. The procession will move to National Memorial Park, 7400 Lee Highway, Arlington, at 11:30 a.m. for a graveside committal service.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. at St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 2609 N. Glebe Road in Arlington, Virginia. Reception will follow services in the church fellowship hall.