The passing Sunday morning of Nancy Reagan brings great sadness to the nation and to those of us who were privileged to serve with her and her husband, the late president Ronald Reagan.
She was an extraordinary woman and his closest adviser.
Nancy Reagan was class personified and had great political instincts, maybe even better than his. As he told me one time, he would not be president without her encouragement and guidance.
After he lost to President Ford by 117 delegates at the 1976 republican convention, he told me he had no desire to run again.
Nancy felt differently and convinced him that for the good of the country he had to try again.
As first lady she added glamour and style to the role. She was an extraordinary hostess and restored a dignity to the White House. She always felt it was the People’s house, and it deserved to be treated with the respect it deserved. She great common sense and reached out to a wide range of people and resources.
In 1984, she did not want President Reagan to run for reelection. After his near assassination in March of 1981, she was always nervous about his health and safety.
In the end she supported the decision to run for reelection in 1984 that resulted in his great landslide and a great second term.
She undertook her own worthwhile agendas while serving in the White House. She worked to increase AIDS awareness and also lead her extraordinary program “Just say no” to drugs. Her breast cancer awareness program was also very important.
The ultimate, painful role she played was being the caretaker when the president was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. She made her family’s first-hand experience with the disease part of a public awareness campaign. Mrs. Reagan was the catalyst for much of research that followed to conquer this dreadful disease.
Her final role was as the torch carrier her extraordinary husband, our fortieth president.
The flame will continue to glow and our nation can forever be grateful for this exceptional president and the lovely lady who loved him, guided him, supported him and loved her country as he did.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Reagan. Your nation loves you and will miss you!