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Former President Ronald Reagan Dies - 2004-06-05


Former President Ronald Reagan, credited with helping end the Cold War, has died. He was 93 years old and had long suffered from Alzheimer's disease. A family friend announced his death Saturday at his home in Los Angeles.

A former Hollywood actor and governor of California governor, the 40th president of the United States was swept into office on a conservative tide in the elections of 1980. He promised to restore public confidence in government at a time the country was plagued by economic woes and humbled by a hostage crisis in Iran. He served two terms, until 1989.

Mr. Reagan saw his greatest mission as the fight against the Soviet Union, which he called the "evil empire," and he boosted U.S. military force to that end. Supporters noted Mr. Reagan's ability to give voice to the optimism, patriotism and values of the American people, while his critics castigated him for holding what they considered a simplistic and militaristic world view.

Some said the two-term president was "teflon-coated" - no scandals or foreign policy failures seemed to cause him political damage. As his presidency came to a close, he was 77 years old, had survived an attempted assassination, and many viewed him as a grandfather of the nation figure. He was also referred to as "The Great Communicator".

In recent years, conservative groups have moved to honor Mr. Reagan across the nation, renaming an airport outside Washington Reagan National, and pushing to have his face imprinted on the dime.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in the midwestern state of Illinois in 1911. He worked his way through Eureka College and went on to become a sports announcer and a Hollywood movie actor.

His political career began relatively late in his life, and included two terms as governor of California.

On his inauguration day as president in January 1981, the 52 Americans who had been held hostage in Iran were released. Only two months later, an assassination attempt put the president in the hospital for several weeks. In 1985, he underwent a colon cancer operation while president.

He is survived by his wife Nancy, daughter Patti, and son Ron. A second daughter, Maureen, died of cancer in August 2001.

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