Former First Lady Nancy Reagan Dies at 94
Nancy Reagan, the helpmate, backstage adviser and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president – and finally during his 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease – has died. She was 94.
“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House,” said President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle.” Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here…and we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again.”
“Laura and I are saddened by the loss of former first lady Nancy Reagan,” said former president George W. Bush. “Mrs. Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband, and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country.”
The former first lady died Sunday at her home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles of congestive heart failure, assistant Allison Borio told The Associated Press.
“I remember Nancy as a noblewoman who supported President Ronald Reagan and stood by his side,” said Israel’s Prime M Benjamin Netanyahu. “She will be remembered as a great friend of the State of Israel.”
When she swept into the White House in 1981, she maintained that her only mission was to support her “Ronnie” and strengthen his presidency.
Mrs. Reagan carried that charge through the rest of her days, serving as his full-time caretaker until his death in 2004.
Her devotion to Reagan did not go unnoticed. She watched his political speeches with a look of such steady adoration it was dubbed “the gaze.”
“Nancy Reagan was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more. George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family,” said Former First Lady Barbara Bush.
After President Reagan died, she dedicated herself to tending his legacy, especially at his presidential library in California, where he had served as governor.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger paid tribute to Mrs. Reagan, calling her “one of his heroes.”
“She served as First Lady with unbelievable power, class and grace and left her mark on the world,” he said. “She’s with her Ronnie now, but those of us she left behind will miss her dearly.”
Mrs. Reagan was not content just to stay in her husband’s shadow. She championed social efforts of her own.
In 1985 Mrs. Regan stated, “I see the first lady as another means to keep a president from becoming isolated,” reports The Jerusalem Post. “I talk to people. They tell me things. And if something is about to become a problem, I’m not above calling a staff person and asking about it. I’m a woman who loves her husband and I make no apologies for looking out for his personal and political welfare.”
Her best-known project as first lady was the “Just Say No” campaign to help kids and teens stay off drugs.
She delved into policy issues as well, urging Reagan to finally break his long silence on the AIDS crisis. She nudged him to publicly accept responsibility for the arms-for-hostages scandal. And she worked to buttress those advisers urging him to thaw U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, over the objections of the administration’s “evil empire” hawks.
After he husband’s death, Mrs. Reagan championed Alzheimer’s patients, raising millions of dollars for research and breaking with fellow conservative Republicans to advocate for stem cell studies.
After arriving to the White House, Mrs. Reagan raised more than $800,000 from private donors to redo the White House family quarters and to buy a $200,000 set of china bordered in red, her signature color.
At times she became a lightning rod for the Reagan Administration. A book published by an embittered former chief of staff contained allegations that Mrs. Reagan consulted an astrologer to guide the president’s schedule.
She was criticized for financing “pet projects” with donations from millionaires who might seek influence with the government, and for accepting gifts and loans of dresses worth thousands of dollars from top designers. Her lavish lifestyle – in the midst of a recession and with her husband’s administration cutting spending on the needy – inspired the mocking moniker “Queen Nancy.”
However, many admirers credited Mrs. Reagan with restoring grace and elegance to the White House after the austerity of the Carter years.
“Nancy Reagan embodied what it means to represent America as first lady and her dignified and warm demeanor inspired America, said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.”Mrs. Reagan will go down in history as a woman who left her own mark on the White House and our country.”
Report via CBN News
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