- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Man donates concrete with heart, initials


LOS ANGELES — As he walked around the property in Pacific Palisades, Terre Hirsch knew that the one-time home of Ronald and Nancy Reagan might contain a memento of the nation’s 40th president and his wife.

As a part-time estate-liquidation consultant, Mr. Hirsch had seen other young couples put a symbol of their love somewhere in their home — perhaps their names etched on a wall or in a tucked-away corner.

But in the course of three months, Mr. Hirsch failed to find any sign of the Reagans in the ranch-style house where they’d lived in the mid-1950s. Then, last fall, when he was removing pots from a backyard walkway, he came upon a dirt-encrusted piece of concrete engraved with a heart and the initials “ND and RR.”

“I got a hose and washed it off and said, ‘Oh my goodness,’ ” Mr. Hirsch said.

Mr. Hirsch had found the “Amalfi Valentine,” a name he later gave the etching found at the Reagans’ former address on Amalfi Drive.

He received permission from the executrix of the estate to remove the 60-pound concrete slab, then made a short video of his discovery, which he sent to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. He received an invitation to the presidential library in Simi Valley, where he and his daughter met with the former first lady this month.

“It was incredible meeting her. She had just all that legendary grace and dignity that she has,” said Mr. Hirsch, who works full time as a license and code supervisor for the city of Burbank.

“Her husband had just died last year. And what a great thing to get something from the past that your husband had given you.”

The memento is expected to be on display at the library in the fall.

“Mrs. Reagan remembers well the day her husband drew a heart with their initials inside in the concrete patio of their home on Amalfi Drive,” according to a statement from the former first lady’s office. “She was delighted to know that it had been found and saved. In a time when so many people are motivated by financial gain, she was moved and very grateful that Mr. Hirsch offered the piece to her.”

The legendary romance between Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis has long drawn admiration from many Americans, who watched the couple go from movie stars to residents of the White House after Mr. Reagan was elected to the first of two terms in 1980.

When her husband died last year after a decadelong battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Mrs. Reagan received an outpouring of support from many admirers who said they felt her loss.

“I always admired their connection together, the fact they had a devotion to each other,” Mr. Hirsch said.

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