In the months before her husband died, Nancy Reagan would often tell her daughter, Patti Davis, that she simply had to be at his side in his last living moment.
Davis, facing her mother's famous resolve, told her that that was in God's hands. But, sure enough, when Ronald Reagan took his last breath, Nancy was there.
"Even God might not have the guts to argue with Nancy Reagan," Davis said Friday at the funeral for the former first lady.
Beneath a gray sky, hundreds of people gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley to pay their final respects to Reagan, who was interred beside her husband.
Reagan, who died Sunday at her Bel-Air home at age 94, planned every detail of her funeral, including the guest list, the readings to be given and the location of her interment, library officials have said.
When the library was built, the Reagans decided they wanted to be buried together on the west side of the property, facing the Pacific Ocean, said Melissa Giller, a spokeswoman for the library and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
Even the storm that threatened to drench much of Southern California on Friday held off until the very end of the ceremony.
In a speech, Davis said her parents were "two halves of a circle," their relationship with each other the most important part of each other's lives. Nancy Reagan was wholly devoted to Ronald Reagan, Davis said.
In the weeks after Ronald Reagan died in 2004, Nancy would tell her daughter that she heard his footsteps coming down the hall and would appear to her late at night, Davis said. Her faith in those visits eased her loneliness. Later, she would keep the television on, to fill the quiet void.
"Over time, what she referred to as late-night visits from my father ceased," Davis said. "She no longer heard his footsteps in the hall, but she never stopped missing him."
Guests came in suits and blazers, some with American flag pins, and embraced one another or snapped pictures together. Actor Tom Selleck worked his way around the crowd, greeting other guests before taking his seat.
Around 10:15 a.m., the chatter began to quiet as "America the Beautiful" rang out through the tent, part of an instrumental prelude by the 1st Marine Division Band, Marine Corps Camp Pendleton. The Santa Susana High School Choir sang "Over the Rainbow."
The Rev. Stuart A. Kenworthy, vicar of Washington National Cathedral, presided over the funeral.
The program included:
- “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” sung by the Santa Susana High School Choir
- Reading of Proverbs 31:10-31 by Anne Peterson, Nancy Reagan's niece
- Letter from Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan, read by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
- “Ave Maria,” sung by opera singer Ana Maria Martinez
- Reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 by Barton Hegeler, Nancy Reagan's nephew
- Reading of John 14:1-6 by Diane Sawyer
- “Pie Jesu-Requiem,” sung by Martinez
- Reflections by James A. Baker
- Reflections by Tom Brokaw
- Reflections by Patti Davis
- Reflections by Ronald Prescott Reagan
- “Amazing Grace,” sung by the Santa Susana High School Choir
- Recessional with bagpipe played by Pipe Maj. Bill Boetticher
- “God Bless America”
Plenty of notable guests were in attendance.
- Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush
- Michelle Obama
- Hillary Clinton
- Rosalynn Carter
- Tricia Nixon Cox
- Steven Ford
- Lynda Bird Johnson Robb
- Luci Baines Johnson
- Caroline Kennedy
Current and former politicians:
- California Gov. Jerry Brown
- Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Former California Gov. Pete Wilson
- Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi
- Newt and Callista Gingrich
- Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz
- Capt. Christopher Bolt, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan
Media and celebrities:
- Katie Couric
- Sam Donaldson
- Steve Forbes
- Larry King
- Chris Matthews
- Peggy Noonan
- Diane Sawyer
- Bo Derek
- Mike Love
- Wayne Newton
- Anjelica Huston
- Melissa Rivers
- Tina Sinatra
- Tom Selleck
- Gary Sinise
- Yakov Smirnoff
- John Stamos
- Mr. T
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