Former first lady Nancy Reagan has died at the age of 94 from congestive heart failure, according to a spokeswoman with the Reagan Library.
Joanne Drake, Mrs. Reagan’s representative, wrote in a statement: “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.”
Drake added that in lieu of flowers, Mrs. Reagan asked that contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation.
Upon learning of Mrs. Reagan’s death, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted: “Rest In Peace, Nancy Davis Reagan. Thank you for your service, and for sharing your life with America as you helped inspire our nation to believe we could be that shining city on a hill. God bless your legacy.”
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump commented, “Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great president, was an amazing woman. She truly will be missed!”
Former first lady Barbara Bush said, “Nancy Reagan was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more. George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family.”
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, noted: “Nancy Reagan embodied what it means to represent America as First Lady and her dignified and warm demeanor inspired America. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Reagan family and all those who she so deeply touched over the years.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said: “With the passing of Nancy Reagan, God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home.”
Radio host Mark Levin posted: “She was a wonderful person and First Lady, and she and ‘Ronnie’ were the perfect storybook couple. An era now comes to a close, and that’s truly unfortunate. But now they’re back together.”
Author Ann Coulter stated: “Nancy Reagan was also an elegant, graceful, mostly silent representative of American womanhood. She’s not responsible for glasnost.”
And NBC news reporter Andrea Mitchell tweeted: “I mourn with many the loss of #NancyReagan one of the most consequential First Ladies & political advisors and courageous thru his illness.”
Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower commented in a statement: “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Nancy Reagan. 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. She was a constant source of support and strength for our parents and our family, and we remain grateful to her and President Reagan for their decades of friendship. We are comforted by the fact that Ron and Nancy are together again. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Reagan family, especially Michael, Patti and Ron as they both mourn their loss and celebrate the life of this remarkable woman.”
Reagan was born on July 6, 1921 as Anne Frances Robbins but called Nancy almost from birth. Following her mother’s interest in acting, Reagan – who took her beloved stepfather’s surname of Davis as her own – pursued a career as a professional actress.
In 1949, she met Ronald Reagan, then an actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild, over an issue of a misplaced listing on the Hollywood blacklist. Their relationship was described as “the romance of a couple who have no vices.” They were married on March 4, 1952 in a small private ceremony to avoid the press.
She became first lady in January 1981, following her husband’s landslide election victory. She brought an element of sophistication and elegance to the White House, praised by some and criticized by others.
Reagan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. Her willingness to undergo a mastectomy is credited with setting an example for women to get regular mammograms.
After serving two terms, the Reagans retired in 1989 to their home in Bel Air, California, where Mrs. Reagan devoted most of her time caring for an ailing Ronald, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.
The death of Ronald Reagan in 2004 ended what Charlton Heston called “the greatest love affair in the history of the American presidency.”