Locals recall the Gipper#039;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Mourning swept across the nation on Saturday as news spread that Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States, finally succumbed to the illness that robbed him of his memories.

Locally, reaction was mixed over his death. Younger people tended to only know him as a president, while people in their late 20s and up remembered him as an active president.

Joan Reynolds, who leads the local Republican Party in Butler County, said from her office on Tuesday losing Reagan truly hurts.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We always hate to lose someone that was that influential on American politics,&uot; she said.

&uot;I have to say that he is the most impressive president we’ve had and I believe he will be remembered as such.&uot;

Reynolds said she would remember that Reagan made a lot of the right decisions while in office, that his successors often claim as their own.

&uot;Everybody said an actor couldn’t be president because he wasn’t intelligent enough, but I believe he shattered that myth altogether,&uot; she said.

&uot;The greatest thing about him was that he knew he couldn’t do everything himself.

Knowing that he surrounded himself with the only the best and brightest to aide him in making informed decisions.&uot;

Alabama Senator Wendell Mitchell (D-Luverne) felt a great loss with the death of Pres. Reagan.

&uot;President Reagan was a great man and president,&uot; Mitchell said. &uot;The first time I met him was when I was in Washington, D.C. I was an award recipient for something I had done in the Alabama Legislature, and Pres. Reagan was on the same program – I had the privilege of talking to him then, and I had been to several meetings where he spoke.&uot;

Mitchell described Reagan as &uot;down to Earth.&uot;

&uot;I thought that President Reagan was one of the most down-to-Earth and cordial men I have ever met to have ever held such a high office,&uot; Mitchell said. &uot;My main observation about him – because I am old enough to have known of all of the presidents since Harry S. Truman – I feel like President Reagan and President Dwight Eisenhower were the two most popular presidents in my lifetime. If you look at the vote results when they each ran for re-election – which is the main test – they had both Democrats and Republicans behind them in their bids for re-election. In the political atmosphere we live in today, you are lucky to win the national vote by one percent.&uot;

Mitchell said he felt Reagan’s greatest accomplishment for the U.S. and the world was breaking down the &uot;Cold War&uot; barriers.

&uot;I didn’t appreciate President Reagan’s contribution until I visited Germany – I believe it was in 1991,&uot; he said. &uot;Pres. George Bush was in office at that time, when I stood on the top of the Berlin Wall. To my right, you could see nothing but poverty and darkness – gray was the number one color, with nothing modern. But to the left, no more than 10 feet away, was a vision of beautiful flowers, beautiful colors, the modern hustle and bustle of commerce, and he was responsible for breaking down that barrier.&uot;

Mitchell said people throughout the world were appreciative.

&uot;I can only imagine the amount of gratitude that is probably felt by those people for his (Reagan) having done that,&uot; Mitchell said. &uot;And locally in the United States, President Reagan – through ‘Reaganomics’ – gets credit for the biggest tax cut since World War II. That is the key element that turned our economy back around. Just before he took over, our nation was in terrible shape economically, with what has been called a recession. I think he is due a lot of credit for that.&uot;

Reagan’s body will travel to Washington on Wednesday to lie in state at the Capitol.

On Friday, a National Day of Mourning, a memorial will be held at the National Cathedral.

All local stations plan to carry it live.

Because the branches of the Federal Reserve will remain open Friday, all local banks will be open as well.

However, the U.S. Postal System has an unexpected day off in observance of Reagan’s funeral.