Former Mansion chef will be remembered Saturday
November 3, 2004
Bette Nyswonger, a former chef at the Governor’s Mansion who died Monday after a long illness, was remembered this week for the warmth and friendliness she brought to the job.
Nyswonger was hired by Sandy Miller, wife of former Gov. Bob Miller, in 1991.
“She treated people with respect and our guests felt genuine warmth from her,” the former first lady said Thursday. “The Mansion became our official home, and she made it a real home for us, especially the children.”
“She was terrific,” added Bob Miller. “She was like part of the family. And she made the world’s best Reese’s peanut butter cake. She was a wonderful person to have around.”
Helen Wiemer, Mansion coordinator at the time, and Nyswonger quickly became the best of friends.
“Bette loved everyone who came into the Mansion,” said Wiemer. “I had been there about three months when Sandy Miller and I interviewed three or four chefs. I felt Bette would be one who would stay. And her qualifications were there. We figured she’d be nice to work with, especially with the Millers’ children.”
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Wiemer said Nyswonger would make funny-face pancakes for Megan, the youngest of the Miller children. The other children are Ross and Corrine.
“One of the Millers liked her tuna. And Bob, oh, he loved chocolate cake. But he had a habit – we’d have to hide the candy from him.”
Wiemer said the Millers made her and Nyswonger feel like a part of their family.
“The Millers were some of her favorite people,” Wiemer said. “And she loved everybody. She got along great with everybody, especially the children. And Halloween was such a riot. It was fun, so much fun. She did have a sense of humor.”
Wiemer said Nyswonger would never tell anyone what was in her recipes. “Her recipes were sacred.”
Wiemer said Nyswonger, who died at Washoe Medical Center, had been in much pain.
“It was very sad and difficult to see her,” Wiemer said. “But a good friend is like a gold that never tarnishes. Her memory will always be there.”
Sandy Miller said Nyswonger’s strong work ethic meant they never had to worry about anything – from start to finish.
“She was a perfectionist. She never stressed over anything, and things never went wrong.
“And she was an important part of my family, and the children considered her that, too. We all lived together. She was so nurturing. She was an important part of Megan’s life. Megan was born in that home. I appreciated her, and we never had that boss-employee relationship. We were truly a family there. Bette was an amazing, terrific person. Her grandchildren should be proud of what she accomplished in her life.”
An informal memorial gathering for Nyswonger, 66, a Nevada resident for the past 42 years, will be 2-4 p.m. Saturday at 732 Norfolk Drive.
Contact reporter Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org .