BY: Jeff Koopersmith, Editor Emeritus
11 March 2016
I have to say I indeed had tears in my eyes when I heard of Nancy Reagan’s death. I knew she was quite ill just before but I thought she would live well into 100.
I knew her fairly well because I was in boarding school after my parents were killed in a car crash. I was young and knew a friend of the kids and they lived two or three houses down from the Reagan place in Pacific Palisades where they lived before Ronald Reagan became Governor of California.
Nancy Reagan was kind and very gentle to me. Later I became interested in politics in public service. I led the Reagan for Government Youth at my school and then in a region near Brentwood School. Reagan wrote by law-school recommendation letters with personal comments under the typed portion.
I did not see the Reagan’s in Sacramento – but did see them when in Los Angeles at this and that event or dinner thing. Nancy was always the best-dressed woman in the crowd. When Reagan kicked off his presidential bid I was there at the old Ambassador Hotel where they had a train caboose as I recall called the Reagan Express some-such.
I went to the White House as a guest just three times – once with my partner and twice with my young son Teddy. Even in the second term the President knew my name and recalled the amusing story about the law school letters. He was, and Nancy was one-of-a-kind, even if I sometimes thought he was listening to hard to the right-wing. Ronald Reagan was not as conservative as they say. In fact his father was active in Civil Rights and Reagan was also very concerned in that area and others that are sometimes ascribed only to “the lefties”.
Some don’t realize that RR was brought into politics in a bigger way by a car dealer which I won’t mention, and then several more Republicans that mushroomed after meeting him and hearing him speak.
Of course – in Big Circus politics – the true person is rarely revealed.
But even when the Democrats were angry over this or that – everyone liked him and admired him as a man of such unusual charisma and kindness. He was the best politician I ever knew, and one of the finest men ever.
It is true that Nancy Reagan was President Reagan’s chief protector all their lives together. She would not stand for any “garbage” from any negative source or person as Mr. Donald Regan, not Reagan found out. There were others as well who she called on the carpet with just a frozen glance or a single word.President Reagan wrote me a personal note sent along with the copies of letters sent to several law schools I hoped I might attend.
” Jeff – I am not the most liked guy at UCLA these days. A letter from me would do more harm than good. Just so you know I’m telling the truth – Patti applied and was turned down.”
(this was Patti Davis who RR considered his own)
These are some favorite photos of Ron and Nancy Reagan….