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Los Angeles – Nancy Davis Reagan, former First Lady of the United States, died this morning at her home in Los Angeles at the age of 94. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Mrs. Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004. Prior to the funeral service, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to pay their respects at the Library. Details will be announced shortly.
In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Reagan requested that contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation at www.reaganlibrary.com
Tributes to Mrs. Reagan poured in from across the political spectrum.
“Our former first lady redefined the role in her time here,” President Obama said in a statement. “Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives.”
Obama noted that Mrs. Reagan once wrote, correctly, that nothing can prepare you for living in the White House — but he and current first lady Michelle Obama “had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice.”
Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ effort was pop-culture icon
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, said that, “with the passing of Nancy Reagan, we say a final goodbye to the days of Ronald Reagan. With charm, grace, and a passion for America, this couple reminded us of the greatness and the endurance of the American experiment.”
Barbara Bush, Mrs. Reagan’s successor as first lady, said she “was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more.”
Former President George W. Bush said that, during her eight years in the White House, Mrs. Reagan “raised awareness about drug abuse and breast cancer.” Bush added that when he and wife Laura moved into the White House in 2001, “we benefited from her work to make those historic rooms beautiful.”
Ex-President Bill Clinton, who issued a statement along with wife and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, described Mrs. Reagan’s strength of character as “legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the President, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s.”
Jimmy Carter, the former president who lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan, said that Mrs. Reagan’s “Just Say No” program “prevented many young people from falling prey to the allure of drug use.”
The former first lady will perhaps be best remembered for her loyalty to her husband. She became fiercely protective of him after a 1981 assassination attempt, and later stood by him as Alzheimer’s disease overtook him in his last years.
In a 1998 Vanity Fair article, she vocalized this loyalty: “When I say my life began with Ronnie, well, it’s true. It did,” she said.
During her White House years, she sponsored a major drug prevention crusade aimed at children and young adults. She toured the U.S. and other nations as part of her “Just Say No” campaign, traveling almost 250,000 miles.
As the first lady from 1981 to 1989, Reagan endured criticism for bringing high fashion and a lavish lifestyle to the White House in a time of recession. Some critics called her “Queen Nancy.
After her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, Reagan became an outspoken advocate for Alzheimer’s research and formed the Ronald & Nancy Reagan Research Institute in Chicago the following year.