- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

From combined dispatches

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — More than 100,000 admirers filed past former President Ronald Reagan’s coffin at his library in a steady stream that continued for two days.

“It’s a lifetime event. I wanted to show my gratitude. I wanted to show my love,” said Jesse Garcia, 52, who came with his wife from their home in Northern California.

Mr. Reagan, the nation’s 40th chief executive, was 93 when he died Saturday of pneumonia as a complication of Alzheimer’s disease.

His death revealed that the popularity of the former Republican president, California governor and movie actor remained strong despite his long absence from public life.

“It is unbelievable what I am seeing on TV,” Reagan office chief of staff Joanne Drake quoted Nancy Reagan as saying Tuesday. “The outpouring of love for my husband is incredible.”

After returning from the G-8 Summit in Georgia tonight, President Bush and his wife, Laura, plan to call on Mrs. Reagan. She will be staying at Blair House, the official guest residence across the street from the White House.

In the District, people already had begun arriving before dawn yesterday to wait in line to view Reagan’s casket at the Capitol Rotunda.

Meanwhile yesterday, the management of the Empire State Building announced that New York’s tallest building will turn off its famous lights in honor of Mr. Reagan.

“In memory of President Ronald W. Reagan and to commemorate the national day of mourning, the Empire State Building’s world famous tower will be dark on the nights of Thursday, June 10 and Friday, June 11,” the management stated.

The skyscraper usually is lit each night until midnight and is a prominent feature on the city’s skyline.

In another tribute to Mr. Reagan, many states gave their workers the day off for tomorrow’s National Day of Mourning.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said state offices also will be closed tomorrow in California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Texas, Connecticut, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Delaware, New Mexico, New York and Wyoming.

“We believe it is important to the people of New York that we continue this tradition and take the time to reflect and remember a truly great American,” said Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for New York’s Gov. George Pataki, a Republican.

The District and Hawaii already had scheduled tomorrow off for local holidays. The federal government also will shut down.

In Simi Valley on Tuesday, mourners endured hours-long waits just to drive into a nearby college that was shut down to provide parking. They waited hours more to board shuttle buses to the library, which had to add more buses and extend its hours to handle the turnout.

The steady stream of mourners was occasionally interrupted by the arrival of political figures and celebrities, including Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

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