In the early 1980s, Nancy Reagan hosted the first NFRW Regents event at the White House. Here, wearing her signature red, she is pictured with NFRW leaders Betty Rendel (center), who served as president during the 1980s, and Marian Miller (right), who went on to serve as president in 2000-01.
By Marian Miller
NFRW President, 2000-2001
First Lady Nancy Reagan was an extraordinary woman. Yes, she was a fierce “defender and protector” of her beloved husband, President Ronald Reagan. I applaud her for that! But she did so much more.
President and Mrs. Reagan devoted their lives to each other and worked to accomplish many of the goals many thought were impossible and some openly opposed. Mrs. Reagan surrounded herself with people who could help her achieve her goals, and she was incredibly successful.
I first met Mrs. Reagan during a visit to the White House shortly after the first inauguration. Members of the NFRW were invited to visit Mrs. Reagan. She was a gracious and charming hostess. She took the time to chat with each of us prior to addressing the group. She invited us to tour the White House.
During her presentation, she thanked everyone for being interested in good government and the future of America. She proceeded to outline some of the projects she wanted to accomplish – restore grace, class and elegance to the White House, involve the American people in addressing some of the major social issues of the day, and fulfilling President Reagan’s goals of keeping America free and strong. She solicited our help.
Listening to the presentation, we knew we had a First Lady who was a model of elegance and style and was ready to “get to work.” We did not hesitate to offer our help.
She told us that some thought she would not be successful. But she reminded us of the quote, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” Mrs. Reagan prevailed, and her accomplishments are legendary.
During our subsequent visits with Mrs. Reagan, she continued to solicit our help – especially with her “Just Say No” campaign and gathering support for her programs and President Reagan’s programs.
I will always remember Nancy Reagan with great appreciation and sincere thanks. She took the time to care. She worked hard. She coped bravely with life’s most difficult challenges. She was proud to be an American, and I, for one, was a proud American thankful to be able to stand beside her.
Editor's Note: In 1985, the NFRW established the National Pathfinder Scholarship in recognition of First Lady Nancy Reagan and her work.
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