A trio of former First Ladies, including Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, and current First Lady Michelle Obama will be among those attending Friday’s funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill wrote on his Twitter account that the former First Lady “is going to drop off the (campaign) trail briefly on Friday to attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral services in California.”
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are also expected to attend, along with former first lady Rosalynn Carter, according to officials at the Reagan Library.
Former President Lyndon Johnson’s daughters Luci and Lynda are expected to attend, along with Tricia Nixon Cox, a daughter of President Richard Nixon.
The White House announced Monday that Michelle Obama will be in attendance. President Barack Obama is not expected to accompany his wife.
“Mrs. Reagan was a woman of incredible strength and grace and she was a passionate advocate for so many important issues,” Michelle Obama said today. “For the example she set both during her time in the White House and beyond, Mrs. Reagan reminded us of the importance of women’s leadership at every level of society.
“And on a personal note, Mrs. Reagan also understood the value of mentoring,” she said. “She warmly and willingly offered advice and encouragement to me as I settled in to my role as first lady, and I am so grateful for her kindness and generosity to me and my family over the years.”
Nancy Reagan, who died in her sleep Sunday at her Bel Air home at the age of 94, will be buried Friday next to her husband, the 40th president, with whom she had a love affair spanning five decades.
U.S. flags on public buildings across the country — and at the Reagan Library — were lowered to half-staff in her memory Monday, following a directive from President Barack Obama.
“I think it’s been well-documented the extraordinary love that she had for her husband, and the extraordinary comfort and strength she provided him during really hard times,” Obama said in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “As somebody who is lucky enough to have an extraordinary partner in my life as well, I know how much she meant not just to President Reagan but to the country as a whole.
“He was lucky to have her,” Obama said. “… She will be missed.”
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation announced that funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the library. The service will be closed to the public.
Nancy Reagan will lie in repose at the Reagan library from 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, giving people a chance to pay their respects. No parking will be allowed at the library. People who want to pay their respects will need to park at the former Bank of America property at 400 National Way, Simi Valley, and take a shuttle.
Foundation officials noted that security will be tight, so people should not bring large bags, cameras or strollers. Gifts and flowers will only be accepted at the bottom of Presidential Drive and at the shuttle pickup location.
According to the foundation, Nancy Reagan requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Fund at www.reaganlibrary.com.
The Reagan library will remain closed to the public until 10 a.m. Sunday.
A fierce protector of her husband’s presidential legacy, the woman behind the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign and the first lady known for tasteful glamour at the White House, Nancy Reagan died of congestive heart failure while asleep at the Bel Air home where she had lived since 1989, Ronald Reagan Foundation spokeswoman Joanne Drake said.
Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, said in a statement on her website that her 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,” she said. “I appreciate the attention and prayers of people I will probably never meet. Just as when my father died, there is comfort in feeling surrounded by gentle thoughts and kind wishes, often sent out by strangers. And just as when my father died, we will honor my mother publicly — stand on the public stage and share as much as we can. Then, when that is completed, we’ll draw the circle in a little tighter and deal with the often complicated map of personal loss.”
Born Anne Frances Robbins in a troubled home in New York City, the future first lady was adopted and gained a new last name from her stepfather, Dr. Loyal Davis, a Chicago physician.
Anne Davis went by the nickname Nancy as she grew up and graduated from Smith College in 1943, did some acting on the Broadway stage and broke into the movies when MGM’s George Cukor gave her a bit part in 1949’s “East Side, West Side.” The studio changed her first name to Nancy.
After the name Nancy Davis was printed in a newspaper letter supporting blacklisted scriptwriters, she sought the help of the Screen Actors Guild to make it clear that she was not that Nancy Davis, and the listing had been a mistake. Ronald Reagan was the president of the guild, who helped her make sure the studios and public made that distinction.
They married in March 1952, and together purchased a home at 1251 Amalfi Drive, in Pacific Palisades, where they lived until a move to Sacramento in 1966. They had two children together, Patti and Ron Jr., and she also helped raise Ronald Reagan’s two children with his first wife, Jane Wyman.
“Hellcats Of the Navy” in 1957 was the only movie they appeared together in, but she continued to act in TV and minor movie roles.
But her biggest role turned out to be as Ronald Reagan’s adviser, counselor and protector when he was in public life, and later, serving as his chief caregiver after he became stricken by Alzheimer’s disease. Reagan died in June 2004.
—City News Service