Former first lady Nancy Reagan dies at 94

Nancy Reagan, the helpmate, backstage adviser and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president — and finally during his 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease — has died. She was 94.

The former first lady died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles’ Bel-Air neighborhood of congestive heart failure, assistant Allison Borio told The Associated Press.

Her best-known project as first lady was the “Just Say No” campaign to help kids and teens stay off drugs.

When she swept into the White House in 1981, the former Hollywood actress partial to designer gowns and pricey china was widely dismissed as a pre-feminist throwback, concerned only with fashion, decorating and entertaining. By the time she moved out eight years later, Mrs. Reagan was fending off accusations that she was a behind-the-scenes “dragon lady” wielding unchecked power over the Reagan administration — and doing it based on astrology to boot.

All along she maintained that her only mission was to back her “Ronnie” and strengthen his presidency.

Mrs. Reagan carried that charge through the rest of her days. She served as a full-time caretaker as Alzheimer’s melted away her husband’s memory. After his death in June 2004 she dedicated herself to tending his legacy, especially at his presidential library in California, where he had served as governor.

She also championed Alzheimer’s patients, raising millions of dollars for research and breaking with fellow conservative Republicans to advocate for stem cell studies. Her dignity and perseverance in these post-White House roles helped smooth over the public’s fickle perceptions of the former first lady.

The Reagans’ mutual devotion over 52 years of marriage was legendary. They were forever holding hands. She watched his political speeches with a look of such steady adoration it was dubbed “the gaze.” He called her “Mommy,” and penned a lifetime of gushing love notes. She saved these letters, published them as a book, and found them a comfort when he could no longer remember her.

In announcing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 1994, Reagan wrote, “I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience.” Ten years later, as his body lay in state in the U.S. Capitol, Mrs. Reagan caressed and gently kissed the flag-draped casket.

Peyton Manning to announce retirement

The five-time NFL MVP is retiring, the Denver Broncos announced Sunday. The team will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. ET Monday for Manning to discuss his stepping away from the game after 18 seasons and two Super Bowl victories.

“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team,” Broncos executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway said in a statement. “Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more — not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”

Manning called the Broncos on Saturday night to inform them he would be retiring. The Monday news conference had been previously scheduled, but the Broncos didn’t know what Manning’s decision would be until he made the call.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported Manning’s decision, which clears $19 million in cap room for the Broncos.

History will show the quarterback made four Super Bowl trips with two titles, set a mountain of records and earned a place on football’s Mount Rushmore. He will retire as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (539), passing yards (71,940) and quarterback wins (186, tied with Brett Favre).

Source: ESPN

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