Dies After Alzheimer's Ordeal
By Arthur Spiegelman
ANGELES (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who forged a
conservative revolution that transformed American politics, died on
Saturday after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93.
His wife, Nancy, and family members had gathered at his bedside at his
house in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles.
The White House said President Bush had been informed of Reagan's death.
A White House spokeswoman said Fred Ryan, Reagan's chief of staff in
California, had telephoned White House chief of staff Andrew Card to
inform him. "Andy told the president that President Reagan had died,"
spokeswoman Claire Buchan said in Paris, where Bush is on a European
She said the White House planned to issue a statement shortly about the
All U.S. TV networks broke into programming to announce
Reagan's death just after 4:45 p.m. EST on Saturday
Reagan's body will be flown to Washington to lie in state before a
funeral service at the National Cathedral at a date to be announced
later. His body will then be returned to California for burial.
Reagan suffered from the brain-wasting Alzheimer's disease since 1994
and his condition is believed to have worsened in the past week.
Reagan, a film star turned politician, was U.S. president from 1981 to
1989. He was voted into office in a conservative revival that changed
America's political and economic landscape for years.
He became the first right-wing president in 50 years; the first in 30
years to serve two terms; and the first to spend a trillion dollars on
peacetime defense and witness a doubling of the national debt.
He was thrust into his gravest crisis with the disclosure in November
1986 that the United States had sold arms to Iran in 1985-86 and
diverted proceeds to U.S.-backed Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua.
Reagan declared himself guilty of nothing but poor judgment, and
Congressional hearings in 1987 backed him on one central point:
witnesses said he was never told about the Contra funds.
He left office two weeks shy of his 78th birthday, by far the oldest
president the United States had ever had and more popular than any
predecessor in history.
It was typical of the amazing physical resilience he had shown in
office, surviving a 1981 assassination attempt that put a bullet near
his heart, a 1985 colon cancer operation and 1987 prostate and
When diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994, Reagan disclosed it in a "My
fellow Americans" letter.
"When the Lord calls me home ... I will leave with the greatest love for
this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future," he wrote on
Nov. 5, 1994. "I know that for America there will always be a bright
dawn ahead." (additional reporting by Steve Holland)