LOS ANGELES Close relatives from 10 White House families – from Caroline Kennedy to first lady Michelle Obama – were expected to attend funeral services on Friday for Nancy Reagan at her late husband’s presidential library in Southern California.
The memorial service for the former Hollywood actress and first lady capped two days during which thousands of mourners filed past her flower-bedecked casket as she lay in repose at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles.
She was to be buried beside her husband in a private graveside service at the library, following a televised memorial ceremony to be attended by numerous dignitaries and celebrities, many from her time in the White House with Ronald Reagan as he served as the 40th U.S. president.
Always fiercely protective of her husband, Nancy Reagan was regarded as one of the most influential presidential spouses in U.S. history during his Republican administration from 1981 to 1989.
She died on Sunday of congestive heart failure at age 94. Ronald Reagan died in 2004 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 93.
Her funeral was scheduled to open with music performed by a choir from the nearby Santa Susana High School and a U.S. Marine Corps band, followed by readings of various Bible passages, according to the Reagan library.
The program also includes a letter from Ronald to Nancy Reagan, to be recited by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a close friend of the couple, and eulogies by Reagan’s chief of staff, James Baker, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and two of Reagan’s children – her daughter Patti Davis and son, Ron Jr.
Leading the roster of VIP mourners slated to attend is current first lady Michelle Obama, joined by close relatives of all of President Barack Obama’s nine immediate predecessors, including former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.
The list includes two other former first ladies – Jimmy Carter’s wife, Rosalynn, and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and now Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race – as well as Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John Kennedy. Children of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford also were expected.
Pallbearers were to include Nancy Reagan’s brother, Dr. Richard Davis and conservative political columnist George Will. Others expected include television news veterans Katie Couric, Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer, as well as such showbiz figures as Anjelica Huston, Wayne Newton, Gary Sinise and Mr. T, who was a supporter of Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign.
(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Robert Birsel)