© 2024 WUKY
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

At Funeral, Nancy Reagan's Children Remember Her Devotion And Humor

Ronald Prescott Reagan speaks during his mother's funeral service on Friday.
Frederic J. Brown
AFP/Getty Images
Ronald Prescott Reagan speaks during his mother's funeral service on Friday.

At the funeral for former first lady Nancy Reagan, her children Ronald Prescott Reagan and Patti Davis remembered her devotion and humor in their eulogies. Nancy Reagan died last week at age 94.

Both son and daughter recalled the unbreakable love between their mother and their father, former President Ronald Reagan. "My parents were two halves of a circle," Davis said. She also recalled a humorous anecdote about her mother. Davis said that a few days before her mother died, she reminded her mother of a story about how her father used to regularly get massages from a "large eastern European man" who would come to the family's house. Davis continued:

"On one of these days, as my father lay face down on the table, my mother tiptoed in, kissed him lightly on the back of his neck and tiptoed out. He didn't know it was her. But he went through the rest of the massage, never said a word, and after the masseur left he said to my mother, 'I don't think we can have him back anymore.' 'Why,' she asked him, 'what happened?' 'Well, he kissed me.'

"When she told him it was her, he was flooded with relief and said, 'thank God, I didn't know what to do.' "

The crowd laughed before Davis once again turned somber.

"My mother's laughter in remembering that day would, unbeknownst to me, turn out to be the last time I would hear her laugh," she said.

Ronald Prescott Reagan recalled his mother's "chutzpah."

He said that his mother, cognizant of Ronald Reagan's passion for working on his ranch, once asked what she could do to help.

"He handed her a bucket of paint and a brush and my mother painted a mile worth of fence, every post, every plank, both sides," he said, laughing. "That paint job lasted for the duration."

Ronald Prescott Reagan said his mother's can-do attitude helped push his father to run for office.

"Both possessed great individual talents, but as a couple, they were more than the sum of their parts," he said. "They were co-equals; they completed each other."

Now Nancy Reagan will be laid to rest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., alongside her husband, who died in 2004.

"It's a beautiful spot. ... Nancy is going to be buried right next to [the former president], which is what she wanted," NPR's Nathan Rott reports. "She planned almost every detail of this funeral before her passing."

The ceremony drew about 1,000 relatives, dignitaries and friends, including Michelle Obama and former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Rosalynn Carter and Laura Bush. Former President George W. Bush, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Caroline Kennedy were in attendance, as were President Richard Nixon's daughter, Tricia Nixon Cox, and President Lyndon Johnson's daughters Luci Baines Johnson and and Lynda Bird Johnson Robb.

Also attending were Hollywood notables such as Tom Selleck, Wayne Newton, Melissa Rivers, Tina Sinatra, Bo Derek, Ralph Lauren and Mr. T, who was famously photographed dressed as Santa with Nancy Reagan sitting in his lap for her "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign in the 1980s.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.