A final farewell to former First Lady, Nancy Reagan
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - Dignitaries from the world of politics, media and Hollywood gathered in Simi Valley today to bid a final farewell to Nancy Reagan as the former first lady is eulogized and laid to rest next to her husband at his presidential library.
The funeral will be private but televised. It will also be streamed live right here on FOX 11.
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Reagan died of congestive heart failure in her sleep at her Bel Air home Sunday at age 94.
Her funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum will be attended by about 1,000 invited guests -- a list compiled largely by Nancy Reagan herself.
Officials with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation said she played a large role in the planning of her own funeral, from designating pallbearers to specifying her burial location within inches of the man with whom she shared a five-decade love story.
She also selected the opening song for the funeral service, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," a favorite of the nation's 40th president.
The Santa Susana High School Advanced Women's Choir and the school's Abbe Road A Cappella group will perform during a musical prelude to the 11 a.m. service, along with the 1st Marine Division Band from Camp Pendleton.
The Rev. Stuart A. Kenworthy, vicar of the Washington National Cathedral, will preside over the funeral. The service will feature readings by Nancy Reagan's niece and nephew -- Anne Peterson and Barton Hegeler -- and her brother, Richard Davis.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney will read a letter that Ronald Reagan wrote to Nancy Reagan, and broadcaster Diane Sawyer will read a section from the Gospel of John.
Also scheduled to deliver "reflections" are former Secretary of State James Baker, broadcaster Tom Brokaw and Nancy Reagan's children, Patti Davis and Ronald Prescott Reagan.
Opera soprano Ana Marie Martinez will sing a selection from a requiem.
No role in the ceremony was listed for Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and his first wife, the late actress Jane Wyman.
The ceremony will end with a recessional bagpipe performance by Pipe Major Bill Boetticher and, finally, "God Bless America." There is rain in the forecast, but officials said the ceremony will be held rain or shine.
About 1,000 people are scheduled to attend the invitation-only service. First lady Michelle Obama will attend, although her husband -- who is in Austin, Texas -- will not. Democratic presidential hopeful and former first
lady Hillary Clinton will also be in attendance, as will former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter, according to Reagan Library officials.
Also expected are Tricia Nixon Cox, a daughter of President Richard Nixon; Steven Ford, the youngest son of President Gerald Ford; Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline
Kennedy; and Lynda and Luci Johnson, daughters of President Lyndon Johnson.
Reagan Foundation officials said the guest list means there will be a representative from every living first family.
Other expected guests are Capt. Christopher Bolt, the commander of the USS Ronald Reagan; Katie Couric; Sam Donaldson; Chris Matthews; Newt and Callista Gingrich; Wayne Newton; Anjelica Huston; Tom Selleck; Bo Derek; Gary Sinise; Yakov Smirnoff; John Stamos; Larry King; Melissa Rivers; Tina Sinatra; and Mr. T, the burly actor who took an active role in Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign in the 1980s.
Gov. Jerry Brown will also attend, along with former governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader. The current
Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, attended a private service with family members at the library on Wednesday, but he is not expected to attend the funeral.
The funeral will end three days of memorials for the former first lady. Family members took part in a brief service at the Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy funeral home in Santa Monica on Wednesday morning, after which her casket was driven in a police-escorted motorcade to the Reagan Library.
That afternoon, and again Thursday, thousands of people braved long lines and a shuttle bus ride to view her flower-draped casket in the lobby of the library. More than 5,000 people are believed to have attended the
The Reagan Library is scheduled to reopen to the public at 10 a.m. Sunday.
According to the Reagan Foundation, Nancy Reagan requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Fund at www.reaganlibrary.com.
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 that 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 fierce 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.
Nancy Reagan received public praise as a classy and elegant first lady, but also some blistering criticism, particularly for a $200,000 set of White House China that was purchased with donated funds during an economic recession. But she also showed the ability to poke fun at herself. Known for her elegant gowns and always-proper -- and expensive -- attire, she attended the 1982 Gridiron Dinner in a typically fashionable outfit. While members of the media performed a satirical skit about her taste in clothing, Nancy Reagan excused herself and changed into a gaudy polka-dot blouse, a red housedress and Hawaiian print skirt, along with yellow rubber rain boots, then took the stage and sang "Secondhand Clothes," set to the tune of "Secondhand Rose."
In October 1987, the Nancy Reagan underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer, and she later went on television from the White House to promote cancer awareness and mammograms.
In 1989, at the end of Reagan terms in Washington, the couple retired to a house in Bel Air: the street number was changed from 666 to 668 at the request of Nancy Reagan, who was superstitious and who had made use of a psychic to help guide her husband during his presidency.
The Reagans traveled between Bel Air and their ranch at Rancho del Cielo, in the mountains above Santa Barbara. The ranch was sold when the ex-president was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994.
Alzheimer's awareness became Nancy Reagan's new campaign, along with burnishing her husband's name and reputation.
Nancy Reagan made one of her last public appearances at the centennial of her husband's birth, in February 2011, on the sun-drenched western porch of the Reagan Library. The Pacific Ocean was on the western horizon, his grave to her side.
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