- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

Maureen Reagan, the oldest daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, died yesterday at her California home of cancer. She was 60.
An articulate, gracious and often original observer of life and politics, Miss Reagan was known for her vitality, focus and steadfast commitment to a variety of causes. Though their views differed at times, she remained loyal and unabashedly affectionate to her father during her own political career, which lasted almost three decades.
"Ronnie and I loved Mermie very much. We will miss her terribly," Nancy Reagan said yesterday from the Reagans' home in Bel-Air, near Los Angeles. "Maureen Reagan has been a special part of my life since I met Ronnie over 50 years ago."
Miss Reagan was the daughter of the former president and his first wife, actress Jane Wyman.
"Like all fathers and daughters there was a unique bond between them," Mrs. Reagan continued. "Maureen had his gift of communication, his love of politics and when she believed in a cause, she was not afraid to fight hard for it."
In a statement yesterday, President Bush and his wife, Laura, expressed their sadness at Miss Reagan's death, citing her work to increase public awareness of Alzheimer's disease. "Laura and I are deeply saddened to learn of Maureen Reagan's death," Mr. Bush said from Crawford, Texas, where he was vacationing.
Politics was indeed in her blood, and she waged its battles on her own terms.
During the 1980s, she was a liaison among the Republican National Committee, female legislators and women's interest groups around the country, eventually serving as the committee's co-chairman from 1987 to 1989. Miss Reagan also founded the Office of Women's Campaign Activities, a national volunteer network and a political action committee that supported more than 100 female candidates.
Her dedication to women's issues soon went to a global scale. Miss Reagan also served as president of the International Women's Leadership Exchange and chaired the U.S. delegation to a U.N. conference on women's economic and social advancement.
Miss Reagan ran for the U.S. Senate in 1982 but was defeated. She made a bid for a seat in the U.S. House 10 years later, finishing second in a field of 11 Republican candidates, with 32 percent of the vote. She went on to become a radio commentator and a political analyst for a variety of print and broadcast media organizations.
While she disagreed with her father over abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment, ideology never seriously interfered in their close relationship.
In her 1989 book, "First Father, First Daughter: A Memoir," Miss Reagan was not afraid to voice her sincere emotions.
"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."
After Mr. Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994, she quickly became a national spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association, testifying before Congress and offering a personal take on the challenges faced by both the victim and the family.
"Maureen has been a great comfort to me these last few years, and has always filled in for Ronnie when she was asked," Nancy Reagan said earlier this year.
In a statement yesterday, the Alzheimer's group said Miss Reagan "never wavered" in her conviction that the disease could be conquered.
She staged her own intense five-year battle with the skin cancer melanoma, and took up the cause of its prevention with her usual tenacious stamina, receiving a 1998 award from the American Academy of Dermatology for her work in raising public awareness.
However, her health began to deteriorate early last month after the disease spread to her brain. She was surrounded by family and died peacefully yesterday morning in her Granite Bay home, which had long been a haven for a multitude of pets, including 40 ducks and geese.
Flags at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Vally, Calif., remained at half-staff yesterday.
In addition to her father and stepmother, Miss Reagan is survived by her mother, Jane Wyman; two brothers and a sister; her husband of 20 years, Dennis Revell; and her 16-year-old adopted daughter, Rita, who came to the United States from Uganda in 1994.
A public memorial service is scheduled for Aug. 18 in St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Sacramento, Calif., followed by a private graveside service, which will be attended by Mrs. Reagan.

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