Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is dead at the age of 94. Her office announced her death today in Los Angeles from congestive heart failure. Funeral details have yet to be announced, but there will be a public memorial service of some kind.
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.
If there’s one thing which will always be remembered about Nancy Reagan it’s how much she and President Ronald Reagan loved each other. The Reagan Library called their romance like Romeo and Juliet and Mark Antony and Cleopatra because of how totally enamored with each other they were.
They truly could not bear to be apart. Ronald Reagan wrote countless letters to his wife, and Nancy left cards and love notes around for her husband to discover when she was away from him. In a letter to Nancy on their thirty-first wedding anniversary he wrote, “I more than love you, I’m not whole without you. You are life itself to me. When you are gone I’m waiting for you to return so I can start living again.” Many years later, when Nancy published some of the love letters she received from her husband, she wrote, “If either of us ever left the room, we both felt lonely. People don’t always believe this, but it’s true. Filling the loneliness, completing each other – that’s what it still meant to us to be husband and wife.”
This is one of those romances which a lot of couples dream of having and it’s fantastic to see it exists. There was always a charm about the Reagans, and I really do believe they’re thrilled to be reunited with each other. Their relationship eclipsed the high-profile marriage of Diana and Charles in England because it truly was “until death do us part.” Maybe that’s something that’s lost today with words about couples splitting up all the time (whether they be celebrity or non-celebrity). I’m honestly surprised no one has bothered to make a movie about their romance, but maybe that was on purpose. At least there are the love letters we can read and enjoy. Here’s what Gahl Burt told Fox News about Nancy and Ronald Reagan.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 6, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan also praised Nancy Reagan for her attitude and devotion to her husband:
“Ronald Reagan could not have accomplished everything that he did without his wife Nancy. As first lady, she brought a sense of grace and dignity to the White House. She roused the country to redouble the fight against drugs. And she showed us all the meaning of devotion as she cared for President Reagan throughout his long goodbye. 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. So on behalf of the entire House, I wish to extend our condolences to the Reagan family and offer our prayers on the passing of a great American, Nancy Reagan.”
Here’s the White House statement on Nancy 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.
Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here. 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.
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.
A lot of people are focusing on Nancy Reagan’s influence on public policy because of her creation of the “Just Say No” campaign and her later role in pushing for federal stem cell funding. I’m not sure today is the right time to do that debate, even if it’s such a part of her legacy. Maybe it’s best to wait 24 hours before deciding to start discussing whether or not “Just Say No” actually worked or if the feds should be involved in stem cell issues. Either way, Rest in Peace Nancy Reagan. Ninety-four is a good long life, and I’m glad you’re back with Ronnie now.