Nancy Clark Reynolds, a Player in Reagan’s Washington, Dies at 94
Nancy Clark Reynolds, whose life as a Washington insider stretched from the Thirties, when she arrived because the daughter of a New Deal congressman, to her position as a confidante to Ronald Reagan and, lastly, to her prominence as one of many metropolis’s best-connected lobbyists in the Eighties, died on May 23 at her residence in Santa Fe, N.M. She was 94.
Her son Clark Wurzberger confirmed the loss of life.
Ms. Reynolds led a Zelig-esque life in the nation’s capital. Her father performed poker with (*94*) S. Truman. As a younger lady she dated J.D. Salinger and Jack Valenti, an advert govt who change into one among Lyndon Johnson’s closest aides and later led the Motion Picture Association of America.
She was greatest associates with Nancy Reagan, but in addition with Anne Wexler, a former adviser to President Jimmy Carter often known as the “Rolodex queen” for her in depth political connections.
Ms. Reynolds inhabited a Washington very completely different from at this time’s hyperpartisan battleground. In her time, congressmen with decidedly completely different politics would possibly nonetheless clink glasses at a Georgetown reception and hash out a deal over canapés. Ms. Reynolds was one among a fast-vanishing breed of D.C. fixers — recognized typically pejoratively as hostesses — who knew methods to create the social circumstances to make these breakthroughs occur.
As a part of the Reagan transition staff, Ms. Reynolds provided a vital hyperlink between the Washington institution and the presidential advisers imported from the West Coast, together with Michael Ok. Deaver, the incoming deputy chief of employees, and Edwin Meese III, a White House counselor and future legal professional common. When the socialite Brooke Astor was planning a reception for the Reagans in New York, she got here to Ms. Reynolds for recommendation.
Ms. Reynolds started her career as a TV journalist in the late Nineteen Forties, when the medium was nonetheless in its infancy, and in the mid-Sixties grew to become one of many first girls to anchor a main nightly information program, in San Francisco. She was recognized for touchdown high-profile interviews, together with with Sonny Barger, a founding father of the Hell’s Angels motorbike gang, and with Ronald Reagan throughout his profitable 1966 marketing campaign for governor of California.
That interview, which she performed on horseback at Reagan’s ranch close to Santa Barbara, so impressed him that he employed her as his press secretary. She stayed with him for his two phrases as governor and thru his 1976 presidential marketing campaign, dealing with celebrities (a not-unimportant activity in California), easing tensions among the many hard-charging gubernatorial employees, and turning into a confidante of Mrs. Reagan, serving to her navigate her new position as a politician’s spouse.
“Some people you feel just totally at home with right away, right?” Ms. Reynolds informed The Washington Post in 1980. “Well, she’s friendly and warm, but there’s a great deal of reserve. It’s not easy to know her well in the beginning. It takes time, but it’s worth it.”
She didn’t be a part of the administration however remained near it, internet hosting events and opening doorways for the White House on Capitol Hill. She was shut sufficient to provide President Reagan studying suggestions, together with a 1984 thriller by Tom Clancy, a not extensively recognized creator at the time. Reagan liked the novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” and his very public endorsement of it made it one of many decade’s greatest sellers.
Ms. Reynolds parlayed her political expertise and connections into a career as one among a new breed of Washington superlobbyists, opening D.C. places of work for main companies and later cofounding Wexler, Reynolds, Harrison and Schule, among the many strongest lobbying companies of the Eighties and one of many first to be led in half by girls.
“What serves you well over the years is just the old gut reaction,” she informed The New York Times in 1983. “Experience and contacts help, but in the end it’s an instinct, an antenna. This city is a tremendous amalgam of incredible people from all walks of life who are elected to political office. You have to be fascinated with the political process.”
Nancy Lee Clark was born on June 26, 1927, in Pocatello, a small metropolis in southeast Idaho. Her father, David Worth Clark, was a lawyer who gained a particular election in 1935 to change into one of many state’s two U.S. representatives. Her mom, Virgil (Irwin) Clark, was a homemaker.
Moving to Washington, the Clarks lived in the Shoreham Hotel — de rigueur for brand new members of Congress, who felt shopping for a residence would possibly seem presumptuous. Mr. Clark needn’t have anxious: He gained re-election in 1936 and a Senate seat in 1938. He was a New Deal Democrat, however he made associates throughout factions and events; his associates included Richard Russell, a conservative Democrat from Georgia, and Robert Taft, a conservative Republican from Ohio.
Washington in the Thirties was a very completely different place from the one Ms. Reynolds would return to in the Seventies. In some ways it was nonetheless a sleepy Southern city, crisscrossed with bridle paths, on which she rode horses together with her father. Though the household returned to Idaho each summer season, she graduated from highschool in Washington, then studied English at Goucher College, in Maryland. She graduated in 1945.
Already an skilled journalist, having interviewed movie stars like Lauren Bacall and Anthony Quinn for her school newspaper, she acquired a job as a reporter for a Baltimore TV station, WBAL.
She met Salinger in New York, the place he confirmed her round Greenwich Village and informed her about a story he was engaged on for The New Yorker referred to as “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” She suggested him to alter the title. He didn’t.
Soon after, she married Bill Wurzberger, had three youngsters and settled down in the suburbs. When they divorced in 1961, she determined to begin over, shifting again to Idaho together with her boys in tow.
Another marriage, to Frank Reynolds, a journalist, Republican marketing campaign aide and lobbyist, additionally ended in divorce. Along together with her son, she is survived by her accomplice, Bob Kemble; her sons Kurt Wurzberger, Dean Wurzberger and Michael Reynolds; and 4 grandchildren.
Back in Boise, Ms. Reynolds acquired a job because the host of a daytime speak present, and a few years later moved to San Francisco, finally becoming a member of Governor Reagan’s employees.
After Reagan’s unsuccessful 1976 presidential marketing campaign, Ms. Reynolds went to work for the constructing supplies company Boise Cascade as its head of presidency relations; she later held the identical job for the producer Bendix Corp., the place she stayed — other than a six-month depart of absence in 1980 to work on Reagan’s White House transition — till 1983, when she left to affix Ms. Wexler.
In 1981, Reagan named her the U.S. consultant to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a part-time position that took her a number of instances to Africa. She fell in love with the continent and particularly its prehistory; after turning into associates with the paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, she joined him on a number of of his digs in the Rift Valley, in jap Africa.
She and Ms. Wexler offered their agency in 1990, and shortly after, Ms. Reynolds moved to Santa Fe.