SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Ronald Reagan was remembered with jelly beans, flowers and American flags on Sunday at memorials in his hometown and outside the mortuary where the former president’s body lay.
“Thank you for changing the world,” said a handwritten note among the tokens of remembrance left in Santa Monica for the nation’s 40th president, who was 93 when he died of pneumonia, as a complication of Alzheimer’s, at his Bel Air home on Saturday.
Plans for a state funeral in Washington, D.C., and entombment at Reagan’s presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., were announced by a family spokesperson.
Reagan's body will lie in repose Monday and Tuesday at the Reagan library. From Wednesday evening through Thursday, the casket will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The funeral will be Friday at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Nancy Reagan remembers her husband
In a piece written for Time magazine before Reagan’s death, Nancy Reagan remembered her husband as “a man of strong principles and integrity” who felt his greatest accomplishment was finding a safe end to the Cold War.
“I think they broke the mold when they made Ronnie,” she wrote in the article appearing Monday. “He had absolutely no ego, and he was very comfortable in his own skin; therefore, he didn’t feel he ever had to prove anything to anyone.”
President Bush, in France to commemorate D-Day, recalled that 20 years earlier Reagan had come to Normandy on the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, invasion.
“He was a courageous leader himself and a gallant leader in the cause of freedom, and today we honor the memory of Ronald Reagan,” Bush said.
'I just think of him as being an American'
At Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Ill., mourners left flowers, flags and packets of Jelly Belly jelly beans — his favorite — at the feet of a life-sized statue of Reagan in the front yard.
Video: U.S. mourns Reagan Ken Dunwoody, 82, who grew up outside Dixon, said the Republican icon transcends partisan politics. “I just think of him as being an American,” Dunwoody said. “I wish we all could get back to that.”
At Bel Air Presbyterian Church, which Reagan attended during and after his presidency, worshipper Rose McNally recalled how members of the congregation would react to his arrival.
“As soon as he’d start up the ramp, people would pick up a piece of paper, any piece of paper, to get him to sign,” she said. “He was a great man.”
The Rev. Mark Brewer opened Sunday’s first service with a remembrance, saying, “As a nation, we grieve this week.”
“He brought with him not only a love for the nation but also a sense of humor,” Brewer told about 500 people. He lauded Reagan’s leadership in the Cold War, calling it the “third great war” of the century.
Praise from Carter, Gorbachev
Former President Jimmy Carter said Sunday that the death of Reagan, who defeated him in the 1980 presidential election, was “a sad day for our country.”
“He presented some very concise, very clear messages that appealed to the American people. I think throughout his term in office he was very worthy of the moniker that was put on him as the ’Great Communicator.”’
“I probably know as well as anybody what a formidable communicator and campaigner that President Reagan was,” Carter said before teaching Sunday school in his hometown of Plains, Ga. “It was because of him that I was retired from my last job.”
Reagan’s “Star Wars” program drew the Soviet Union into an unaffordable arms race, and his 1987 declaration to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Berlin Wall — “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” — was the ultimate challenge of the Cold War.
Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reforming his nation and easing world tension, called Reagan a “true leader, a man of his word and an optimist.”
Within two years after Gorbachev’s ascent to power in 1985, the two leaders signed a treaty eliminating the entire class of medium-range nuclear-tipped missiles.
“I don’t know whether we would have been able to agree and to insist on the implementation of our agreements with a different person at the helm of American government,” Gorbachev said in op-ed piece in Monday’s New York Times.
“True, Reagan was a man of the right. But, while adhering to his convictions, with which one could agree or disagree, he was not dogmatic; he was looking for negotiations and cooperation.”
Reagan died at 1 p.m. Saturday and his body was taken to a Santa Monica funeral home. A shrine that sprouted outside grew to include a cowboy hat, personal letters, flags, candles and jelly beans.
Hand-written cardboard signs read: “Because of you, we are proud Americans,” “God bless you, Ron, and God bless America” and “Good night, Mr. President.”
TRIBUTES TO A FORMER PRESIDENT
- Former President George H.W. Bush: “We had been political opponents and became close friends. Barbara and I mourn the loss of a great president and for us a great friend,” Bush said. “He could take a stand ... and do it without creating bitterness or creating enmity on the part of other people.”
- Former President Bill Clinton: “Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere. It is fitting that a piece of the Berlin Wall adorns the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.”
- Former President Gerald Ford: “Betty and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our longtime friend, President Reagan. Ronald Reagan was an excellent leader of our nation during challenging times at home and abroad. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Nancy and his family.”
- Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass: “Even when he was breaking Democrats’ hearts, he did so with a smile and in the spirit of honest and open debate,” Kerry said. “The differences were real, but because of the way President Reagan led, he taught us that there is a big difference between strong beliefs and bitter partisanship,” Kerry said. “Today in the face of new challenges his example reminds us that we must move forward with optimism and resolve. He was our oldest president, but he made America young again.”
- Queen Elizabeth the II led British tributes. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman says “the queen is saddened by the news” of Reagan’s death.
- Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan’s ideological soulmate and personal friend, mourned “a truly great American hero.” Thatcher called Reagan “one of my closest political and dearest personal friends.” She added: “He will be missed not only by those who knew him and not only by the nation that he served so proudly and loved so deeply, but also by millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued.”
- Current British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to Reagan’s wife, Nancy, and to U.S. President George W. Bush to express his condolences. “President Reagan will be remembered as a good friend of Britain,” Blair’s office said in a statement.
- Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who with his wife joined the Reagans in crooning “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” at a summit in Quebec in the 1980s, called Reagan’s death “a great loss for the United States and the world.”
- Pope John Paul II, who worked closely with the Reagan White House in the 1980s to bring down communism in his native Poland, received the news of his death with “sadness,” a spokesman said Sunday.
- French President Jacques Chirac: “A great statesman who through the strength of his convictions and his commitment to democracy will leave a deep mark in history.”
- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent President Bush a letter of condolence Sunday over Reagan’s death, saying he had received the news with “great sadness.” “His engagement in overcoming the East-West conflict and his vision of a free and united Europe created the conditions for change that in the end made the restoration of German unity possible,” the chancellor wrote.
- Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who served from 1982 to 1987, hailed Reagan as an “indispensable friend of the Japanese people.”
- Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill: "A giant left us today," Hyde said. "Ronald Reagan had a sense of principles he believed in, and no amount of polling data or press could cause him to alter these principles. He was a great patriot, a great optimist and one of the greatest presidents in our history. We should thank God for letting us have him as long as we did,” Hyde said.
- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: “President Ronald Reagan proved that an American, raised in difficult family circumstance, in a small town, with no personal money could not only could succeed but could rise to lead the cause of freedom and declare victory over the tyranny of the former Soviet Union," Gingrich said. “All free people stand on Reagan’s shoulders. His principled policies proved that free markets create wealth, that the rule of law sustains freedom, and that all people everywhere deserve the right to dream, to pursue their dreams, and to govern themselves."
- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: “President Reagan’s bold leadership in difficult times provided Americans with tremendous strength and inspiration. Above all, he was a true patriot, whose endless optimism inspired America’s continued ascent to greatness. Undoubtedly, Ronald Reagan has left an indelible mark on our country and our global community.”
- Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: “America has lost an icon. Ronald Reagan’s leadership will inspire Americans for generations to come. His patriotism and devotion to our country will never be forgotten.”
- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: “Ronald Reagan served our country with dignity and he died with dignity. As an American, I appreciate Ronald Reagan’s great leadership and service to our country. As a Californian, I admire the special grace and humor that endeared him to millions. I hope it is a comfort to Nancy Reagan and the entire Reagan family that so many people mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.”
- Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass: “We often disagreed on issues of the day, but I had immense respect and admiration for his leadership and his extraordinary ability to inspire the nation to live up to its high ideals. The warmth of his personality always shown through, and his infectious optimism gave us all the feeling that it really was ‘morning in America.’ On foreign policy he will be honored as the President who won the Cold War, and his ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’ will be linked forever with President Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’"
- Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie: “Ronald Reagan was a president of great historic impact who led the United States with strength and conviction, and the positive impact of his policies is still felt today here and around the world. More than two decades after he was first elected president, the Republican Party still bears his imprint. Because Ronald Reagan lived, people across the globe live in greater freedom and prosperity.”
- Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe: “Democrats faced off against Ronald Reagan in many battles but he was always the Republican Party’s Happy Warrior. Reagan represented the best of civility in American politics and the finest traditions of standing up nobly for what you believe in. Even during the toughest political fights, he and former House Speaker Tip O’Neill could always sit down together after the workday was done, as friends and fellow patriots. Today there is mourning in America because this is not just a loss for Republicans -- it is a loss for all Americans."
- Lt. Col. Oliver North, National Security Council official under Reagan: “Ronald Reagan was easily the greatest president of my lifetime -- and he will be regarded as one of the greatest leaders this country has ever had ... a man of extraordinary vision, great compassion and resolute leadership. He brought down the Evil Empire and made the world safer for my children and theirs.”
- Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn: “Ronald Reagan was a patriot who reflected the eternal optimism of our nation. His charm, wit and character were evident throughout his long life, and his public service will never be forgotten.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.