Former first lady, Nancy Reagan passes away at 94

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Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan share a moment in this undated file photo. (Credit: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (WXMI/AP) — Former first lady Nancy Reagan has died at the age of 94.

According to a press release from Nancy Reagan’s office, the widow of Ronald Reagan passed away Sunday morning in her home in Los Angeles. Assistant Allison Borio says Mrs. Reagan died due to congestive heart failure.

Her marriage to Ronald Reagan lasted 52 years until his death in 2004.

A former actress, she was Reagan’s closest adviser and fierce protector on his journey form actor to governor of California to president of the United States.

Upon becoming the First Lady, Mrs. Reagan focused on fighting drug and alcohol abuse among youth.

After leaving the White House in 1989, she continued her campaign to educate people on the dangers of substance abuse, and in 1994 the Nancy Reagan Foundation teamed up with the BEST Foundation For a Drug-Free Tomorrow. The Nancy Reagan Aftershool Program, a drug prevention and life-skills program for youth, was developed shortly after.

She rushed to his side after he was shot in 1981 by a would-be assassin, and later endured his nearly decade-long battle Alzheimer’s disease. In recent years she broke with fellow Republicans in backing stem cell research as a way to possibly find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Mrs. Reagan served on the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation where she was heavily involved in projects related to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and promoted her husband’s legacy of leadership and freedom.

President Obama and Michele Obama say Nancy Reagan redefined the role of serving as first lady and they are fortunate to have benefited from her “proud example.”

The Obamas say in a written statement that in Mrs. Reagan’s long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s.

They also noted her role as advocate of behalf of treatments that could improve and save lives.

The Obamas are offering condolences to the Reagans’ children and grandchildren, and they remain grateful for her life and thankful for her guidance.

Many Republican presidential candidates, such as Texas senator Ted Cruz and GOP front-runner Donald Trump, have issued statements following Mrs. Reagan’s death.

Former first lady Barbara Bush, also had this to say on the passing of Mrs. Reagan:

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.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued this statement:

Today the state of Michigan mourns the death of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, a well-respected, devoted leader who used her role as First Lady to advocate for those less fortunate in our country. To this day, her ‘Just Say No’ campaign impacts the way this country talks about the dangers of drug abuse. Nancy’s determination to helping those in need will always to be an inspiration to us all. Sue and I extend our heartfelt condolences to those grieving for Nancy, and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

Mrs. Reagan is planned to be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband. In a statement released by a spokesperson, before the funeral, the public will have an opportunity to pay their respects.

Mrs. Reagan has also requested that instead of flowers, people can contribute to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation here.

So far no details have been announced for Sunday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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