Nancy Reagan: Charm, grace, and a passion for America
By David Jackson
March 6, 2016
Former first lady Nancy Reagan, the former actress who played a pivotal role in the political rise and presidency of husband Ronald Reagan, died Sunday of congestive heart failure at the age of 94, the Reagan library announced.
She will be buried next to her husband, former President Ronald Reagan, at his presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif.
"Prior to the funeral service, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to pay their respects at the Library," its statement said. "Details will be announced shortly."
Tributes to Mrs. Reagan poured in from across the political spectrum.
"With the passing of Nancy Reagan, we say a final goodbye to the days of Ronald Reagan," said Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. "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."
The 2016 Republican presidential candidates also paid praised the former first lady.
Donald Trump called Mrs. Reagan "the wife of a truly great President" and "an amazing woman" who will be missed, while Ted Cruz said she will be "remembered for her deep passion for this nation and love for her husband.."
John Kasich described the Reagans' marriage as "one of our nation's great love stories and a model of shared devotion to our country," while Marco Rubio called the former first lady "a true example of integrity and grace."
A Democrat, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, said that "you didn't have to be a Reagan Republican to admire and respect Nancy Reagan." He called her a tower of strength who had strong beliefs and "was not afraid to chart her own course politically," including support for the Brady gun control law.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., citing President Reagan's late-in-life battle with Alzheimer's, praised Nancy Reagan for her support of stem-called research, "channeling her family's private struggle into public advocacy on behalf of the millions of Americans fighting this disease."
Long-time aide Michael Deaver, who died in 2007, once said that, “without Nancy, there would have been no Governor Reagan, no President Reagan."
The former president died in 2004.
"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," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky.
Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921 — and given the name Nancy by her mother — Mrs. Reagan's father left the family when she was young. Her mother, Edith Robbins, toured the country as an actress. Mrs. Reagan later married Dr. Loyal Davis, and the family settled in Chicago.
Having caught the acting bug from her mother, young Nancy pursued the profession in New York and Hollywood, where she met with fellow actor Ronald Reagan.
The two married on March 4, 1952.
The former Nancy Davis made 11 films in all, her last one coming in 1956: Hellcats of the Navy, co-starring her husband.
After her husband's election as governor of California in 1966, Mrs. Reagan began projects to assist wounded Vietnam veterans, prisoners of war, and service members missing in action. As first lady of the United States, Mrs. Reagan made drug abuse a central focus for her "Just Say No" program.
The library said that Mrs. Reagan is survived by her brother, Dr. Richard Davis; her two children with Ronald Reagan — Patti Davis and Ronald Prescott Reagan — and her stepson, Michael Reagan, as well numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Reagan had requested that memorial contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation, the announcement said.
DAVIS, Nancy (Anne Frances Robbins)
Born: 7/6/1921, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 3/6/2016, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Nancy Davis’ westerns – actress:
The Tall Man (TV) – 1961 (Sarah Wiley)
Zane Grey Theater (TV) – 1961 (Amy Lawson)
Wagon Train (TV) – 1962 (Mrs. Baxter)