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Inside Politics

Ronald Reagan dies at 93

Former president had Alzheimer's disease for 10 years


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CNN's Robin Oakley on Reagan, Europe and the UK.

President Bush speaks of Reagan's legacy.

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REAGAN'S LIFE AND TIMES
Birth: February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois

Married: Jane Wyman 1940-1948, Nancy Davis in 1952

Education: Graduates from Eureka College, Illinois, in 1932

1932-1966: Sports announcer, motion picture and TV actor

1947-1952: President of Screen Actors Guild

1962: Campaigns for Richard Nixon, GOP gubernatorial candidate in California

1967-1974: Governor of California

1976: Loses Republican primary to Gerald Ford

1980: Elected 40th president, beating Jimmy Carter

March 30, 1981: Assassination attempt

January 11, 1989: Farewell address to the nation

1994: Announces he has Alzheimer's disease

May 16, 2002: Ronald and Nancy Reagan awarded Congressional
Gold Medal
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Alzheimer's disease

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Former President Ronald Reagan -- who led a conservative revolution that set the economic and cultural tone of the 1980s, hastened the end of the Cold War and revitalized the Republican Party -- died Saturday. He was 93.

The 40th president of the United States served from 1981 to 1989.

His office said he died of pneumonia, described as a complication of Alzheimer's disease, a condition he made public in a stirring letter in 1994.

His wife of 52 years, Nancy Davis Reagan, and their two children, Ron Reagan and Patti Davis, were with him at 1:09 p.m. (4:09 p.m. ET) when he died at his home in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles.

Michael Reagan, his adopted son from his first marriage to actress Jane Wyman, arrived at the home shortly before news of the death. Maureen Reagan, his daughter from that marriage, died of brain cancer in 2001.

A hearse bearing Reagan's body emerged from the house at 5:13 p.m., escorted by police motorcycles and followed by several other cars. The flag-draped coffin was visible through the rear window.

Some people standing along the route to the funeral home in Santa Monica held American flags and others saluted. The funeral home was surrounded by hundreds of people.

Reagan's body is to lie in state at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before his burial at the library. A funeral service will be held at Washington National Cathedral.

The White House and federal buildings lowered their flags to half-staff in Reagan's honor.

President Bush responded to Reagan's death in Paris, France, where he is on tour to honor the heroes of World War II on the weekend of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

"This is a sad hour in the life of America. A great American life has just come to an end," Bush said. "He leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save. During the years of President Reagan, America laid to rest an era of division and self-doubt, and, because of his leadership, the world laid to rest an era of fear and tyranny," Bush said. (Bush statement)

Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, said "history will give Reagan great credit for standing for principles."

"It was wonderful the way that he could take a stand, and do it without bitterness or without creating enmity with other people," said the elder Bush, who was Reagan's vice president and successor.

Nancy Reagan issued a brief statement to announce her husband's death. "We appreciate everyone's prayers over the years," she said.

Soon after his father's death, Michael Reagan noted "the feeling of loss and pain which comes when a parent leaves you."

"I pray that as America reflects on the passing of my dad, they will remember a man of integrity, conviction and good humor that changed America and the world for the better," Michael Reagan said. "He would modestly say the credit goes to others, but I believe the credit is his."

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, issued a statement that praised the former president for his optimistic outlook.

"Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere," their statement said.

Presidential historian Robert Dallek spoke of Reagan's contributions to the office.

"He restored a kind of confidence in the presidency, and a better mood in the United States about politics and politicians and about the presidency," Dallek said.

'Long journey'

At a fund-raiser last month, Nancy Reagan described her husband's condition.

"Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him," she said. "Because of this I'm determined to do whatever I can to save other families from this pain."

Alzheimer's is a progressive, irreversible, incurable neurological disorder that causes losses of memory and mental abilities -- eventually leading to dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site.

She also called for increased funding for stem-cell research, which has shown promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's and other conditions, such as Parkinson's disease.

"Now science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that have for so long been beyond our grasp," Reagan told an audience in Los Angeles. "I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this."

Human stem-cell research is controversial, because it uses cells harvested from newly fertilized embryos. Bush signed an executive order in 2001, banning the use of federal funds to harvest new lines of stem cells for medical research.

Assassination attempt

Reagan disclosed in November 1994 in a passionate letter to the American people that he has Alzheimer's disease. Reagan faded from public view a short time later and has been rarely seen outside his home.

The former Hollywood film actor stopped going to his Century City office in 1999 but still made trips to parks and enjoyed strolls on the Venice Beach boardwalk with his Secret Service contingent.

At 69, Reagan was the oldest man elected president when he was chosen on November 4, 1980, over incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.

On March 30, 1981, Reagan was leaving a Washington hotel after addressing labor leaders when John Hinckley fired six gunshots at him. A bullet lodged an inch from Reagan's heart, but he recovered fully.

In 1984, he defeated Democrat Walter Mondale.

Reagan has also undergone a 1985 colon cancer operation and 1987 prostate and skin-cancer surgery.

He fell and broke his hip in 2001, less than a month before his 90th birthday.

Former President Ronald Reagan died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93.


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