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Former first lady Nancy Reagan dead at age 94

By UPI Staff
1/22
Former first lady Nancy Reagan dead at age 94
Former first lady Nancy Reagan, seen here at the 2007 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award gala dinner, died Sunday. She was 94. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, March 6 (UPI) -- Former first lady Nancy Reagan, once an obscure Hollywood starlet who later implored a generation of young people to "Just Say No" to drugs, died Sunday morning of congestive heart failure. She was 94.

Known as one of the most hands-on first ladies the United States has ever had, Reagan controlled the schedule of her husband, President Ronald Reagan, and was known for influencing White House staff appointments and firings, the New York Daily News reports.

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She was also well known for consulting an astrologer for divine intervention.

"For eight years, I was sleeping with the president, and if that doesn't give you special access, I don't know what does!" she once said.

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Reagan was nearly always by the side of her late husband "Ronnie" as he transformed from Hollywood movie actor to California governor, then two-term president of the United States. "My life really began when I married my husband," she once said.

Her representative, Joanne Drake, said Nancy Reagan died of congestive heart failure. "Mrs. Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004," Drake wrote in a statement.

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The White House released the following statement:

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"Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice.

Our former first lady redefined the role in her time here. Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer's, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives.

We offer our sincere condolences to their children, Patti, Ron, and Michael, and to their grandchildren. And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan's life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again."

Nancy Robbins was born July 6, 1921 at Sloane Hospital in Flushing, Queens. Her mother, Edith was a socialite and actress and her father, Kenneth Robbins, was a used-car salesman. Her parents divorced when she was 6 and her mother, busy pursuing her acting career in New York City, sent her to live with an aunt and uncle, Virginia and Audley Galbraith, in Bethesda, Md.

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When Edith Robbins married neurosurgeon Loyal Davis, he legally adopted Nancy, making her the only first lady ever to be legally adopted.

"Prior to the funeral service, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to pay their respects at the Library," Drake said in her statement.

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