Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

First Lady's Death Stirs Memories of Reagan Era

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

First Lady's Death Stirs Memories of Reagan Era

Article excerpt

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - They came to mourn the stylish, influential first lady and celebrate an era. The death of Nancy Reagan at 94 has rekindled memories of a presidency passed, when the "Reagan revolution reshaped American politics, ushered in the end of the Cold War and telegraphed a cheery optimism to supporters that's little more than a distant echo in the tumult and tawdriness of the 2016 presidential campaign.

As hundreds of mourners, admirers and just the curious continued a solemn procession Thursday past Mrs. Reagan's flower-draped casket at the Reagan Presidential Library, some paused to recall the days of "morning again in America, a Reagan campaign theme, and the Reagan doctrine intended to curb Soviet influence during the Cold War.

"We're just grateful for the Reagan years, Ray Brooks of Simi Valley said as he waited in line with his wife Jackie to board a shuttle to the library grounds where Mrs. Reagan's casket was placed in the marble lobby with a bronze statue of a smiling Ronald Reagan nearby.

"Everybody, no matter how they felt about those years, when they look back they remember them as good years because of the example they set. We need an example like that now, Brooks said.

Asked who among the candidates running for president this year might set that example, both burst out laughing.

"I try not to think too much about that, Ray Brooks said.

Though Reagan was a Republican icon, Richard Venn remembered the 40th president as a unifier known for his humor who could find friends among political rivals. He recalled Reagan's friendship with the late Democratic House leader Tip O'Neill of Massachusetts.

"We keep looking for his replacement, and we're still looking for his replacement, said Venn, dressed in a red, white and blue shirt, who lives in nearby Oak Park.

Preparations were underway for Friday's funeral, when forecasters said Thursday's brilliant skies could be replaced by thunderstorms and wind. A tent was erected over the site.

More than 3,000 people came to the library northwest of Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Mrs. Reagan will be buried next to her husband, who died in 2004.

The guest list of entertainers, actors, politicians and celebrities is a portal into the lives of the Reagans. …

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