Condolences for former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s who died during the weekend poured throughout the nation.
The actress-turned- presidential wife was 94 years old. The lady who inspired the fashion color “Nancy Reagan Red” during the eighties suffered heart failure.
The Alzheimer’s Association, which she supported after President Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with it, were among the first to issue statements. Harry Johns, president and CEO, remembered when the president made his illness public.
“Mrs. Reagan and President Reagan bravely shared his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with the world in 1994,” he said. “This was at a time when Alzheimer’s disease was truly in the shadows and together they began to change the conversation about Alzheimer’s disease for millions.”
At the time, the disease was not well understood and the former First Lady spent years working to raise interest and awareness.
“The public disclosure of their Alzheimer’s experience created an enormous, and much needed upsurge of interest in the disease from the general public and government officials,” Johns said. “It was our honor to work with Mrs. Reagan over the years.”
President Obama lauded her work to make her husband’s struggle a touchstone for a national issue.
“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,” he stated.
Reagan happened to give him some good advice that he and his family later took to heart, he said.
“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House,” he said in an official statement. “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.”
He said she was a modern First Lady who set a standard for those after her to follow.
“Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here,” his statement continued.
Other’s noted she was an active participant in world affairs behind the scenes. President Reagan’s speechwriter Ken Khachigian said he always kept her in the loop.
“I learned very early to pay attention to her opinions, because each time she expressed them, it turned out they were usually the president’s,” he wrote in an essay he released about her.
She was far more influential in affairs of the state than he expected her to be.
“President Reagan often could not bring himself to be critical of his staff or question the collective opinion of “the fellas.” So, he would frequently express his doubts or concerns to Mrs. Reagan” he wrote. “It soon became clear to me that “Mommy,” as he called her, was the president’s interpreter and message-carrier. There was many a speech that had her imprint by way of channeling the president’s thinking,” he wrote.
Mikhail Gorbachev, who is now 85 years old, in issued a statement about her involvement in Russia-U.S. relations during her husband’s administration. He said he was grieving over her passing.
“I offer deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of Nancy Reagan, wife and friend of Ronald Reagan,” he said. “She sincerely wanted her husband to go down in history as a peacemaker, but not a hawk of war, and sought to help him in this.”
He remembered the Reagans fondly as a couple he worked with to change the world.
“We together embarked on a path of putting an end to the Cold War and partnership between our countries,” he said. ” I am sure that this will not be forgotten.”
The Russian government also released a statement that recounted the friendship that blossomed between the leaders.
“Raisa Maksimovna and I also kept warm recollections about our meetings with Nancy and Ronald in further years in San Francisco and at their ranch near Los Angeles,” he said. The article stated that later in life he would drink tea with them on their country terrace where they talked about current events.