Nancy Reagan's Funeral: Hillary Clinton, Tom Brokaw and More Pay Final Respects to the Former First Lady
By Raphael Chestang
Dignitaries and stars alike paid their final respects to former first lady Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on Friday.
Those in attendance included First Lady Michelle Obama, Mr. T, Diane Sawyer, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich, Anjelica Huston, Chris Matthews, Gary Sinise, Larry King, Tom Selleck, Katie Couric, Wayne Newton, John Stamos, Melissa Rivers, George W. Bush and Laura Bush.
The funeral began at 11 a.m. PT and was officiated by Reverend Stuart A. Kenworthy, Vicar of Washington National Cathedral.
The service was preceded by a musical prelude from the Santa Susana High School Advanced Women's Choir and Abbe Road A Cappella and an instrumental prelude by the 1st Marine Division Band, Marine Corps Camp Pendleton.
The program also included a reading of Proverbs 31:10-31 by her niece Anne Peterson, a letter from Ronald Reagan to Nancy, a Gospel reading of John 14:1-6 by Sawyer and reflections by the Honorable James A. Baker, Tom Brokaw, her daughter Patti Davis and her son Ronald Prescott Reagan.
Following the service, Nancy will be laid to rest next to her husband, who died June 5, 2004, on the grounds of the presidential library.
"Ronald and Nancy Reagan were defined by their love," said former Secretary of State James Baker at the service. "They were as close to being one person as it is possible for any two people to be."
Baker credited Nancy for much of Ronald's success as President of the United States.
"She had an instinct for reading people that the president knew he lacked," Baker said. "Nancy was the president's eyes and ears on personnel. She could see who was paddling their own canoe and who was loyal to the president. And she was as tough as a Marine drill sergeant -- as many of us found out when things didn't go well."
Davis agreed with Baker about her parents' fierce loyalty to one another.
"My parents were two halves of a circle," she said. "Nobody truly crossed the boundaries of the exquisite space that was theirs."
Outside the service, Clinton spoke to ET exclusively about her fondest memories of Nancy.
"She was always so gracious and welcoming to me, but I also remember her strength and her resolve following the attempted assassination of her husband," Clinton said. "She really helped to guide our country through that time."
Amid the sadness in the room, son Ronald Prescott reminded the guests of how fun-loving his mother was.
"She would want this to be a party," he said. "This is not a tragedy. This is a celebration."