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Nancy Reagan’s Passing: A Reminder of the Reagans’ Undying Devotion to Each Other

CNS News

By Craig Shirley | March 8, 2016 | 11:59 AM EST

She used to dream of him, in all seasons, in all manner of things. Now Nancy Reagan is together again with her Ronnie, forever in eternity.

Their marriage is one of the great love stories in the history of the White House. We’ve had presidents and First Ladies who were in love, weren’t in love, who were indifferent to each other, and some presidents who couldn’t keep their marriage vows.

No one, except the most rabid Reagan hater, has ever suggested credibly that Ronald and Nancy Reagan were not deeply in love, mad for each other for over fifty years.

It was said that if Reagan wanted to be a shoe salesman, she would have made sure he was the best shoe salesman in the world. It just so happened Reagan wanted to be a national political and world leader, so she did her best to make sure he was the best.

Very few First Couples were not only in love, but in like too as best friends and soul mates. It was clear from the beginning of their storybook marriage that she did not want to be the star, the candidate, the president. Not every First Lady understood the country only wanted one president at a time and at least one tried to con the American people with a “two for one” pitch. The American people never bought it.

The true measure of a good marriage is not how things go in good times, but more importantly, in bad times. Nancy and Ronald Reagan pledged for better or for worse, and her commitment and love came shining through many times, as his career sunk  in Hollywood, as he lost his GE career, as he lost the 1976 GOP nomination.

And, at the last, during the Alzheimer years. For those ten years, she was there all the time, rarely leaving his side, almost never leaving California and then only to inspect a new statue of Ronnie or accept a new award on his behalf. Keeping his legacy alive was very important to Mrs. Reagan and to the American people.

She sacrificed herself for him, eating rarely, not getting enough sleep, thinking of him, praying for him. She could have had him put in an hospice but it never crossed her mind. She was going to care for him, be near him, a part and parcel of a “long goodbye.”

Nancy was there in the beginning, even before the beginning. They both said their lives began when they met each other. No one ever doubted it. No one ever doubted their undying devotion to each other.

And no one doubts they are now together again – “Ronnie” and “Mommy” – in loving eternity.

Craig Shirley is the author of two bestselling books Ronald Reagan’s campaigns and is now working on several more including Last Act, about Reagan’s final years. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, December 1941, and is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.

Nancy Reagan: Condolences Pour in for ‘Tower of Strength’ First Lady

NBC news

by MAR 7 2016, 9:32 AM ET

The news of Nancy Reagan’s death Sunday at the age of 94 brought a flood of tributes, condolences and reminiscences.

Many noted the substantial impact she left on the country and the world, and the deep commitment and love shared between the former first lady and her late husband, President Ronald Reagan.

“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice,” President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama said in a statement.

“We offer our sincere condolences to their children, Patti, Ron, and Michael, and to their grandchildren. And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again,” the first couple said.

Obama twitter

“Nancy Reagan defined grace, courage, and loyalty. An accomplished actress, First Lady of California, and First Lady of the United States, she understood public service is a noble endeavor,” said Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden in a statement.

“And together, she and our 40th president gave meaning to a poet’s words: Come live with me and be my love/And we will all the pleasures prove,” the Bidens said. “Nancy and Ronald Reagan proved those pleasures for more than half a century. They are now together to prove them once again.”

“My mother had been in poor health for quite a while, and recently had gotten markedly worse, so this wasn’t a surprise. That said, death always feels like a surprise,” said Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, 63. She thanked those who offered condolences, and said the family would honor her mother publicly and then move on to grieving privately.

Reagan’s son, Ron Reagan, 57, said his mother “was a woman who was totally dedicated to her husband.”

“She loved her husband more than anything in the world,” Ron Reagan said on TODAY. “He meant everything to her.”

“The Ronald Reagan that we all came to know would not have existed without Nancy Reagan,” he added.

“I am saddened by the passing of my step mother Nancy Reagan … She is once again with the man she loved. God Bless,” wrote Ronald Reagan’s adopted son, Michael Reagan, 70.

Michael Reagan twitter

Former President George W. Bush lauded Reagan’s work to raise awareness about drug abuse and breast cancer. “Mrs. Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband, and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country. Her influence on the White House was complete and lasting,” he said in a statement.

His mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, said Reagan was “totally devoted” to her husband.

“We take comfort that they will be reunited once more,” Bush said. “George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family.”

President Bill Clinton said he and Hillary Clinton were “deeply saddened” to hear of Reagan’s death. “Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious First Lady, proud mother, and devoted wife to President Reagan—her Ronnie,” Clinton wrote. “Her strength of character was legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the President, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s.”

Hillary tweet

“My thoughts & prayers are with Nancy Reagan’s family and friends. Very sad to learn of her passing,” Chelsea Clinton tweeted.

President Jimmy Carter said: “Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan. She will always be admired for her strength of conviction and her lifelong devotion to her husband.”

President Richard Nixon’s daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon, said Reagan was “a constant source of support for our parents and our family.”

“Her love for her husband and our nation endeared her to people of all walks of life, while her crusade against drugs and dedication to bettering the lives of young people everywhere changed millions of lives,” they said.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Reagan left an “indelible impression” on the country. “President Reagan was one of our country’s greatest optimists, whose courage and foresight helped win the Cold War, and Nancy was his partner and confidante, helping guide him through his years in public office and beyond,” he said in a statement.

“No matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for America,” said Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “Nancy Reagan was an exemplary first lady. … Nancy Reagan had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed.”

 

McCarthy twitter

“Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great President, was an amazing woman. She will be missed,” said GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the Reagan family was in his prayers. “Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her deep passion for this nation and love for her husband, Ronald,” he said.

“President Reagan has been reunited with his wife and partner but America and the Reagan family have lost a woman of grace and strength,” said Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “Nancy Reagan’s dedication to our country was matched only by that of her husband. Theirs was one of our nation’s great love stories and a model of shared devotion to our country. America is stronger and better for their service.”

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Reagan was “a true example of integrity and grace.”

New Jersey Gov. and former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said Reagan “embodied grace and poise for generations of Americans.”

“Nancy Reagan was the rock behind one of the greatest leaders of our time. She was her husband’s greatest source of strength through the toughest decisions he made as president,” Christie said.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said even those who weren’t “Reagan Republicans” admired and respected the former first lady. “She was a tower of strength alongside her husband, had strong beliefs, and was not afraid to chart her own course politically.”

“She persuaded her husband to support the Brady Law, and their advocacy was instrumental in helping us pass it,” Schumer said, referring to the pivotal gun safety measure.

Former Republican presidential candidate — and recent newsmaker arguing for bringing class back to politics — Mitt Romney said in a statement that Reagan’s passing marked the end of “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,” Romney said. “God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home.”

“Ronald Reagan could not have accomplished everything that he did without his wife Nancy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “She loved her husband, and she loved her country. This was her service. It was her way of giving back. And all of us are very grateful.”

“President Reagan was famous for his smile, and Nancy was usually the reason he was smiling. During her husband’s presidency and the difficult years that followed, Nancy Reagan was a rock of strength and unconditional love, and a leader in her own right on matters close to her heart,” said former House Speaker John Boehner. “May they now both rest in peace in God’s loving arms, reunited for eternity.”

“Nancy Reagan was an example to us all of graciousness, loyalty and dignity in good times and bad. She was an exemplary First Lady, and a generous friend. I will always be grateful for her and her husband’s many kindnesses to my family.,” said Se. John McCain, R-Ariz. “And I will always remember her as a dear friend and patriot and as one-half of a love story that Hollywood couldn’t have written any better.”

McCain twitter

House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Reagan “touched the heart of a nation and made the world a better place.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted the bond between Nancy Reagan and her husband. “In many ways the Reagan love story was classic Hollywood, but it was unmistakably human too,” he said in a statement. “Hands intertwined, Nancy and Ron rose to the pinnacle of political power, weathered cancer and personal heartbreak, and braved the depths of Alzheimer’s cold embrace — always together.”

“Our loss is heaven’s gain. First Lady Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her bravery & integrity,” said House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Reagan was a “dear friend.”

“I will miss her but never forget all that she meant to me. Her spirit will live on in all who learned from her and loved her,” Rice said.

Pete Souza twitter

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Reagan one of his “heroes.”

She served as First Lady with unbelievable power, class and grace and left her mark on the world,” Schwarzenegger said. “She’s with her Ronnie now, but those of us she left behind will miss her dearly.”

Maria Schriver, who, like Reagan served as first lady of California, noted on MSNBC that Reagan was “deeply devoted to her husband.”

“She served our country and the state of California with class,” Schriver said in a statement.

“We’re saddened by the loss of Nancy Reagan,” said a tweet from NASA, accompanied by a picture of the former first lady admiring a space shuttle.

NASA twitter

The Girl Scouts of America said in a statement that Reagan would be remembered for her “courage, confidence and character” in service to America and the Girl Scouts. Nancy Reagan served as the honorary national president of the Girl Scouts from 1981-1989.

Girl Scouts twitter

“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer condolences to the Reagan family and the United States following the death of Nancy Reagan,” said Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Nancy and Ronald Reagan were one of the great love stories of the American presidency,” said Craig Shirley, a Ronald Reagan biographer, who has written three books about the late president. “Nancy Reagan was not only the First Lady; she was a Great Lady.”

Nancy Reagan: The Portrait of a First Lady

Conservative Review

By: Craig Shirley | March 07, 2016

During the 1980 campaign, Washington Star columnist Judy Bacharach tore into Nancy Reagan for, among other things, handing out chocolates to the traveling press.

The next day Nancy appeared again on the plane, handing out chocolates, only this time with a sign around her neck with read, “Take One! Or Else!” That was Nancy Reagan. A sharp sense of humor and a sharper sense of irony.

She was always a fighter, especially where her husband was concerned. She usually concerned herself to the East Wing and her various charitable works but sometimes, when she felt someone wasn’t doing their best for Ronnie, she spoke up.

For example in 1980, Nancy had liked campaign manager John Sears, who’d run Reagan’s near miss campaign in 1976. Four years later, however, she believed Sears had changed and was no longer an asset to her husband’s faltering efforts. She played a discrete but influential role in Sears’s ouster.

Seven years later, she again exerted her rare but powerful authority by helping to have fired Don Reagan, her husband’s Chief of Staff, who again was hurting and not helping her husband.

But Nancy’s greatest role was out of the spotlight, away from the crowds, in the tender care and love she gave to Reagan as he slipped into the long goodnight of Alzheimer’s. While he took it in stride, Nancy Reagan took it upon herself.

She also concerned herself with his legacy and much of what we understand and celebrate about Ronald Reagan is because of Nancy Reagan. From the Library to the presidential debates to books, authors, lectures, courses and his 100th birthday, each bears the light but firm touch of Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan is already a part of history, not only for what she did, but for who she was and for who she helped. She understood the role of a supportive spouse and helpful First Lady was to ensure the President was good and healthy. If the President is strong and healthy, then the nation is likewise.

Nancy Reagan will be known for what she did and who she was, but she will also be known for what she wasn’t and what she did not do. She did not attend Cabinet meetings, she did not involve herself in national policy but she was very good at being Mrs. Ronald Reagan. In this role and the responsibilities that came with it, she was truly an Academy Award winning star.

Nancy Davis Reagan, RIP.

Nancy Reagan: A legacy all her own

Washington Post

By Amy Brittain March 6 at 7:44 PM

Nancy Reagan’s unwavering devotion to her husband, President Ronald Reagan, was among her most well-known qualities.

But she was more than a partner, a spouse and a steadfast caregiver to her husband after he was afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. In the aftermath of her death on Sunday, friends and former colleagues spoke of a legacy that is all her own: one of grace, kindness and loyalty to those she loved. They said she made her husband better and, with that, she made the country better.

William J. Bennett, who served as secretary of education under Reagan, spent much of Sunday afternoon fielding calls from reporters after news broke of Nancy Reagan’s death at 94 from congestive heart failure. But he said there was someone in his house who could better describe her as a friend. Then, he handed the phone to his wife, Elayne.

Elayne Bennett was one of the “Cabinet Wives” — the spouses of top-ranking members of the Reagan administration. She said that she was 36 years old at the time and was the youngest wife of the group. She felt that she had to be “on her toes” in the presence of the first lady, but soon, that anxiousness faded.

“She was very much in control and, of course, beautiful,” Elayne Bennett said. “I was in awe of her. She was so lovely to me. She put me at ease. She went out of her way to be kind.”

In 1986, Bennett said she attended a luncheon held at the residence of Barbara Bush. She remembers it being a cold and dreary day, and she was seated next to Nancy Reagan.

“I was just very surprised and delighted,” she said. “But also I remember a bit thinking, ‘Oh gosh, what will I talk about?’ ”

But Nancy Reagan was adept at friendly small talk, and Bennett remembers pleasantly chatting about the warm Washington springtime and soon-to-be blossoming cherry trees.

Nancy Reagan often encouraged the wives to take on their own platforms and to use their access for the greater good, Bennett said. Bennett started her own foundation, the Best Friends Foundation, and credits Nancy Reagan’s “real zeal” for youth education.

Other friends recalled Nancy Reagan’s ability to share candid feedback with her husband during his presidency.

Robert Higdon started working for the Reagans in 1985 and led fundraising efforts for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation.

Higdon said Nancy Reagan was the only person who could approach the president without toning down a message. She lunched around town, listened to friends and foes and conveyed their opinions to Reagan with honesty, he said.

“We’ve all heard the story described as a love affair,” Higdon said. “She very much looked after her husband. When one is in a political office, you’re isolated to some degree. Everything is filtered. One of her best abilities as a partner was to not filter things.”

Ken Duberstein, a former chief of staff for Ronald Reagan, remembers Nancy Reagan as someone who truly believed that “the art of governing required compromise” and relied upon relationship building.

“She had other perspectives that she gathered around town and on the phone. She was a listener. She would share those judgments with him,” he said. “She was focused on making her husband the best he could be.”

As a member of the library board, Higdon said he typically stayed at Nancy Reagan’s home whenever he traveled to California for business trips. His most recent visit was last spring.

“Up until the day she died, she was engaged and laughing and busy with friends,” he said. “She had a very full life, but she missed him terribly. I had never seen anything like that in my life.”

He paused and added: “She’s with him.”

Washington Post publisher and chief executive Frederick J. Ryan Jr. echoed those sentiments. Ryan, who serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, said that the former first lady’s contributions to Reagan’s presidency may never be fully understood or appreciated.

“The Ronald and Nancy Reagan relationship was a great American love story,” he said. “Although he’s been gone for over 10 years, it never did get easier for her, I know that. Now, she’s where she wanted to be since the day that she lost him.”

Reagan historian Craig Shirley said that Nancy Reagan’s post-White House years, particularly those spent as a caregiver for her ailing husband, revealed her true strength.

“Her greatest role may have been when he was afflicted,” he said, noting her efforts to raise funds for Alzheimer’s and stem-cell research. “She was almost giving a part of her life to him in order to will him back.”

Shirley said that she did so with “grace and with motivation and with a thoroughness,” all driven by a greater cause.

“Their marriage is really a marriage for the ages,” Shirley said. “It rivals the devotion of the Washingtons and the Adamses.”

Alice Crites contributed to this report.