Nancy Reagan, whose devotion to her husband President Ronald Reagan over their 52 years of marriage was the stuff of legend, is being remembered today as a woman of amazing strength and character.
Mrs. Reagan, who died Sunday at age 94, not only provided full-time care to her husband for the last 10 years of his life — as Alzheimer’s ravaged his memory — she became a tireless advocate for advancing stem cell science.
Breaking with the conservative element of the Republican Party, she urged George W. Bush’s Administration to reverse its limitations on stem cell research.
As Pam Solo and Gail Pressberg describe in their book The Promise and Politics of Stem Cell Research, Mrs. Reagan hoped that stem cells might provide new treatments for a variety of diseases and conditions, well beyond her husband’s Alzheimer’s: “I just don’t see how we can turn our backs on this.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, like President Reagan a former governor of the State of California, tweeted that “Nancy Reagan was one of my heroes” and a person of “unbelievable power, class and grace,” who “left her mark on the world.”
Mr. Schwarzenegger was governor when California began investing $3 billion in stem cell R&D to find cures for a number of diseases and health conditions. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has since become one of the driving forces in stem cell R&D in the world.
Mrs. Reagan was active with Michael J. Fox in raising millions of dollars to fund scientists’ investigations into the dementia, Parkinson’s and other diseases.