Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan died June 5, 2004, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Reagan died of pneumonia at age 93 at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was surrounded by members of his immediate family, including his wife of 52 years, Nancy.
Reagan was a beloved figure to most Americans although he was frequently lampooned by the liberal media. Originally a Democrat, Reagan became a Republican when the Democratic Party moved away from the traditional values which Reagan embraced. He turned the economic problems left from the Carter years around, and his foreign policy ended the cold war by effectively bringing down the Communist regime in the USSR.
He made the transition from actor to statesman with grace and handled his tragic illness with dignity. When diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994, Reagan said, "When the Lord calls me home ... I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me to the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."
In a twist of irony, the man known as "The Great Communicator" during much of his carer was no longer able to recognize or speak to his loved ones during his last years because of Alzheimer's.
"A great American life has come to an end," President Bush said of the death of the 40th president. "He leaves behind a nation he restored, and a world he helped save."
Editor's Note: I lost my own father to Alzheimer's Disease in 1993. To learn more about Alzheimer's, go to
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From our archives June 5, 2004