|Cause of Death||Age||Burial Location||President Grave #|
|Alzheimer's; Pneumonia||93||Simi Valley, California||33rd in my collection|
* Prior to entering politics, Ronald Reagan was a popular actor. He acted in such films as Kings Row, Bedtime for Bonzo, and Knute Rockne, All American. From 1947 to 1952, he was the president of the Screen Actors Guild, which is a labor union that represents actors and actresses. It was through his career in the film industry that Reagan met both his first and second wife. He had co-starred with Jane Wyman in the 1938 movie Brother Rat, as well as its sequel, which was released in 1940, the year the two performers were wed. When they divorced in 1948, Wyman stated, "There was nothing in common between us, nothing to sustain our marriage." The following year, Reagan came to the aid of a young actress named Nancy Davis, who had found out that her name was on a list of people in the entertainment business who were members of questionable political organizations and affiliations. This list kept many writers and performers out of work during the 1940's and '50's. Reagan, who was the SAG's president at the time, told her that she had been confused with someone with the same name. The two bonded, and were married in 1952.
* On March 30, 1981, President Reagan delivered a speech at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. While he was exiting the hotel, the deranged John Hinckley, Jr. took aim and fired six shots at the president. The first five bullets either hit innocent bystanders or missed completely, while the sixth shot ricocheted off the presidential limousine and entered the president’s chest through his armpit, lodging in one of his lungs. After quick thinking by a Secret Service agent, Reagan was taken to George Washington University Hospital. Following surgery, the president recovered. James Brady, Reagan’s press secretary, was shot in the head and was paralyzed. The other two wounded survived as well. At the conclusion of Hinckley’s trial the following year, it was ruled that he was mentally ill, and was therefore not guilty. Hinckley was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, and believed that assassinating the president would impress her. As of 2013 the would-be assassin resides at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C.
* Known as the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan was the oldest person to be elected president of the United States. He was 69 when he first took the oath of office in 1981. Reagan retook the oath in 1985 at age 73, following his victory of the 1984 election. One of the greatest achievements from his presidency was how he helped in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Calling the U.S.S.R. an "evil empire", the president proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was meant to protect the United States from nuclear missiles. Much of Reagan's second term was spent trying to put an end to the socialist state. He had several summits with the U.S.S.R.'s leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the two negotiated to reduce the nuclear stockpile that the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. had. One of Reagan's most memorable quotes was said in 1987, as he stood at the Berlin Wall. "General Secretary Gorbachev," he stated, "if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Within a year of Reagan's departure from the presidency, the Berlin Wall fell, followed by the Soviet Union itself in 1991. Today, a piece of the Berlin Wall is displayed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
* In 1994, the former president was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which is a degenerative neurological ailment that eats away at one's brain cells. Later that year, Reagan released an emotional handwritten letter to the American public. In the message, he stated that he had developed the disease, and that he only wished that there "was some way that I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage." As time wore on, Reagan's public appearances grew more and more scarce until they stopped altogether. He passed away at his home in Bel Air on June 5, 2004, ten years after he was diagnosed with the disease. In honor of the former president, 104,684 people travelled to the capital city to see him lie in state. After services at the Washington National Cathedral and his presidential library, Reagan was laid to rest looking out toward the Simi Valley.
First Lady: Nancy Davis Reagan
- Spouse: Jane Wyman (1917-2007)
Nancy Davis Reagan (1921- )
Political Party: Republican Party
Vice President: George Herbert Walker Bush
Last Words: Unknown