- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

LOS ANGELES — Maureen Reagan, the outspoken presidential daughter who became a crusader for Alzheimer's disease awareness after her father fell ill, died today. She was 60 and had suffered from skin cancer.
Ms. Reagan, the first child of Ronald Reagan's first marriage, to actress Jane Wyman, died peacefully at her Sacramento-area home, said her husband, Dennis C. Revell.
She was "surrounded by loved ones after a courageous 5-year-long battle with malignant melanoma," Mr. Revell said. She lived with Mr. Revell and their 16-year-old daughter, Rita, a Ugandan girl they adopted in 1995.
In "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan," author Edmund Morris wrote of her: "Had she Ronald Reagan's emotional discipline, she might be an assemblywoman somewhere. She is fascinated by politics, and is, if anything, a better speaker than he is, with an avid interest in every issue and a near Neapolitan fluency of gesture."
She made a couple of unsuccessful bids for public office, trying for the U.S. Senate nomination in California in 1982 that was eventually won by Pete Wilson. In 1992, she finished second among 11 candidates for the Republican nomination for a new House seat, capturing 31 percent of the vote.
An outspoken feminist, Ms. Reagan disagreed with her father on abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment. From 1987-89, she served as co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and she created a political action committee that supported more than 100 women candidates.
She also chaired the U.S. delegation to the 1985 World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women, and served as U.S. representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Over the years, she was also a political analyst, radio talk show host, commentator and author of "First Father, First Daughter: A Memoir."
"My relationship with my father hasn't changed with the years," she wrote. "I still feel for him the same love and respect and admiration I've always felt; if anything, those feelings have deepened with time. He will always be a big, warm, cuddly teddy bear of a father to me, and I will always be his wise-eyed, precocious little girl."
She became a national spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association after her father announced in 1994 that he had the disease and was beginning "the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life."
Ms. Reagan wrote movingly of her father's mental decline in an essay in Newsweek last year: "Earlier in the disease we did jigsaw puzzles, usually animal scenes: a farmyard, horses in a meadow, a jungle scene. We started with 300-piece puzzles and worked our way down to 100. Unfortunately, he can't do that anymore."
She traveled the nation to spread the word about Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. She testified before Congress to get more funds for Alzheimer's research and family support.
She told interviewer Larry King earlier this year that the National Institutes of Health "can only finance about 25 percent of the viable grant requests that they get in a year, which means the science is way ahead of the money."
In addition to Alzheimer's disease, she was dedicated to raising public awareness of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and promoting the importance of skin examinations.
She was diagnosed with the disease in 1996, undergoing infusions of interferon and other treatments. "I had so many nuclear tests I was a night light," she quipped in 1998.
Last fall, it was discovered the disease had spread and she underwent a new round of chemotherapy and other treatments. But she was stricken with mild seizures on the Fourth of July, and tests showed the cancer had spread to her brain. She received radiation treatment and was released from the hospital July 23. "She's taking every day as it comes," Revell said at the time.
"Maureen has been a great comfort to me these last few years, and has always filled in for Ronnie when she was asked," her stepmother, Nancy Reagan, said earlier this year.
Maureen Reagan was born Jan. 4, 1941, a year after her movie star parents married. Mr. Reagan and Ms. Wyman also adopted a son, Michael, and had another daughter who was born premature and died a day later. They divorced in 1949.
Despite a hectic schedule and family obligations, Ms. Reagan made regular trips to her father's Bel-Air home to visit the ailing former president.
Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. About 8,000 people in this country die from it every year, and almost 40,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

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