Maureen Reagan dies of cancer at 60

Maureen Reagan dies of cancer at 60
Sat Jun 12, 2004 20:17

Maureen Reagan dies of cancer at 60
August 9, 2001 Posted: 2:20 AM EDT (0620 GMT)

Maureen Reagan was the daughter of actress Jane Wyman and former President Ronald Reagan.

GRANITE BAY, California (CNN) -- Maureen Reagan, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, died Wednesday at her home outside Sacramento after a battle with cancer.

Reagan, 60, had been undergoing radiation treatments for a malignant melanoma that had spread to her brain. She was the former president's daughter with his first wife, actress Jane Wyman.

"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," Nancy Reagan said in a statement. "Ronnie and I loved Mermie very much. We will miss her terribly."

Maureen Reagan had battled skin cancer since 1996 and learned last month the tumors had spread to her brain. She is survived by her husband, Dennis Revell, and her 16-year-old daughter, Rita.

Reagan was admitted to the hospital July 6. Doctors discovered two lesions on her brain following tests to determine why she was suffering spasms and mild seizures.

Former Reagan presidential aide Michael Deaver called her an "extremely energetic" woman who "never hesitated to give you her opinion."

Most of all, Deaver said, she will be remembered for her undying love for her father, who has battled Alzheimer's disease since 1994.

"The thing was this loyalty for her father in whatever part of his life, including the last part of her life, when she was so dedicated to finding a cure for this terrible disease that had stricken her father and family," Deaver said.

Reagan was a member of the Alzheimer�s Association board of directors and served as the group�s spokeswoman. She got involved with the group after her father revealed he had been stricken with the disease.

She once wrote that a 1993 conversation with her father should have triggered concern about his health. She said she was talking with her father about a movie he made in the 1950s, "Prisoner of War."

"Finally he looked at me and said, 'Mermie, I have no recollection of making that movie,'" she said.

Maureen Reagan called that moment her first "click of awareness" about her father's illness. "No actor ever forgets a role," she wrote, "so I should have realized something was wrong." A year later the former president was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and withdrew from public life.

Ginny Helms with the Alzheimer's Association said Maureen Reagan helped bring the need for a cure of the disease to the forefront, allowing Americans to see how the disease "affects families and caregivers and what they're going through."

"With Maureen you really got a sense of how it impacted her family, but she also was just so gracious in how she handled it," Helms said.

President Bush, whose father served as Reagan's vice president, offered condolences to Reagan's family Wednesday.

"Maureen was a devoted, caring daughter and mother," Bush said. "She fought tirelessly to increase funding for Alzheimer's research and raise public awareness of the disease."

Reagan's history of activism led her to run unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1982 and House in 1992, both in California.

A one-time Democrat, she became a Republican during her teen years and later pointed out she had been a Republican longer than her father. But, unlike her father, she supported abortion rights: She called the issue one between "a woman and her God."

Probably the only thing resembling a public clash between Ronald and Maureen Reagan came when Maureen entered the senatorial primary in California. Asked his thoughts on his daughter's possible entry into elective politics, the president replied that he hoped she would not do it.

This came across to many people, including Maureen, as a rebuke, but she said the president clarified his comment in private and voted for his daughter in the primary. She later served a term as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

Before her July hospitalization, Reagan told CNN's Larry King she had rebounded after nearly dying from the skin cancer, which had spread to her spine.

She said the treatment she had received over several months at the John Wayne Cancer Institute of St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, "seems to have worked," and she was discharged in June. At one point, her father was undergoing treatment for a broken hip in the same facility at one point.

A public memorial service and mass was scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Sacramento. The service will be followed by a private graveside service.

Reagan's final years allowed family divisions to heal - San Jose Mercury News (subscription

Media | Maureen Reagan August 08, 2001
... Maureen Reagan, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and actress Jane Wyman,
died in her home in Granite Bay, California, on August 8, 2001, after a ...

August 8, 2001

Maureen Reagan, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and actress Jane Wyman, died in her home in Granite Bay, California, on August 8, 2001, after a courageous battle with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. She was 60 years old.

Ms. Reagan was a member of the national board of the Alzheimer's Association and a leading advocate for the Association.

In honor of Maureen's commitment and dedication to fighting Alzheimer's disease, the Alzheimer's Association has established the Maureen Reagan Tribute Fund. Donations to the fund can be sent to the Maureen Reagan Tribute Fund, Alzheimer's Association (mailing address), or can be made online or by telephone at 800.272.3900.


August 8, 2001, Press release from the Reagan Family: Maureen Reagan Loses Valiant Fight for her Life

August 8, 2001, Press release: Alzheimer's Association Mourns the Loss of Maureen Reagan

August 8, 2001, Press release: Statement by Nancy Reagan Regarding the Death of Maureen Reagan

August 8, 2001, Press release: A powerful Voice in the Fight against Alzheimer's is Lost

August 8, 2001, Press release: Alzheimer's Association Establishes Maureen Reagan Tribute Fund

July 13, 2001 Press release: Maureen Reagan's Cancer Spreads to Her Brain

March 24, 2001 Press release: Former President’s Daughter Completes Cancer Treatment Early

January 31, 2001 Press release: Status report on Maureen Reagan’s treatment for malignant melanoma

January 09, 2001 Press release

Photo of Maureen Reagan

Ms. Reagan’s biography

Ms. Reagan’s activities with the Alzheimer’s Association

Links to Web site with testimony , stories, press releases and photos of Maureen Reagan and her work for the Alzheimer's Association

Comments about Ms. Reagan

Comments in Remembrance of Maureen Reagan

“We are so grateful for the all-too-short time we got to share Maureen’s warmth, passion, tireless energy, and commitment to fighting Alzheimer’s disease. She gave us much more than we ever could have given back--in fact, we soared on her wings. It's her legacy that will drive us to make our vision--a world without Alzheimer’s--a reality.”

Orien Reid, Chair,
National Board of Directors
Alzheimer’s Association

“Maureen Reagan was a great friend to the Alzheimer’s Association and a terrific ally in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Maureen was more than just a spokesperson for the association; she was a tireless advocate for those suffering from the disease and for their caregivers. Wherever she was, she always made time to meet with these people and listen to their concerns. In fact, you could see them in her eyes. We could use a few more Maureens in the world. From everyone at the Alzheimer’s Association, we pass along our condolences to Maureen’s husband, Dennis, and their daughter, Rita.”

Alan J. Stone,
Former President and CEO,
Alzheimer’s Association

“Maureen was not only a great communicator like her father, but beyond that--that magnificent articulation of hers. She had depth, introspection, and prophetic wisdom that made her a role model for all of her associates at the Alzheimer’s Association.

“But most of all, we recognize her passionate devotion to her father as she gave him comfort in his own fight against the ravages of this dreaded malady. Her devotion to her mother, Jane Wyman, and also Nancy Reagan, as well as to her husband and daughter, knew no boundaries.

“As an active and passionate supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association, we will all suffer a great loss, even though conventional wisdom has it that no one is irreplaceable. All of us, however, will miss her wisdom and the warmth of her friendship. May her memory be for blessing.”

Jerome H. Stone,
Founding Chairman,
National Board of Directors
Alzheimer's Association

“We are all saddened by the news today of the passing of our dear friend and supporter, Maureen Reagan. She will be greatly missed, by all her colleagues and friends. But our memory of her will live on. Maureen was a great spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association, and her work was invaluable to us. We offer our condolences to her husband, Dennis, and to her family.”

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan,
Honorary Vice Chair,
Board of Directors,
Alzheimer’s Association

Maureen didn't just hold onto life-she picked it up and ran with it. And she was blessed with a husband and daughter whose energy, commitment, and devotion matched her own. Although her death is an incredible loss to her family, her friends, and to the Alzheimer's Association, her life was an incredible gift to us all.”

David Hyde Pierce
Actor, National Board Member,
Alzheimer's Association

“We have lost a marvelous spirit and a dedicated friend of Eureka College. Maureen Reagan has been deeply committed to the growth and strength of her father's alma mater, serving it exceptionally well as an enthusiastic trustee and supporter. We will miss her enormously. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

George Hearne
Eureka College President

“From the first day I met Maureen Reagan, she displayed a fire that fueled her passion for intensifying the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. In the years that followed, she acted on that passion countless times—by leading the charge in scores of communities across the country and in the halls of Congress. Her crusader’s voice and persuasive personality will be sorely missed, but her fire will continue to light our path as we carry on in her stead.”

Edward F. Truschke,
Former President and CEO,
Alzheimer’s Association

“Maureen’s indomitable spirit and compassion for our mission are her legacy. I will miss her, both as an Alzheimer's colleague and champion and as a personal friend--our shared experiences with melanoma made us especially close. Like her, I will continue to do all I can to combat Alzheimer’s. Her tenacity and fighting Irish spirit will live on in all of those whose lives she touched.”

Kathy O’Brien,
Vice President of Program Services
Alzheimer’s Association

“We can still see the sparkle in her eye and hear the determination in her voice, 'I’m finishing my father’s work that he is no longer able to do.’ No one hated Alzheimer’s disease more than Maureen did. Her last official work for the Alzheimer’s Association took place in Oklahoma City. We gathered together a few community leaders, along with representatives from the Oklahoma Chapter, to enjoy an intimate dinner with Maureen. It was one of four visits she made to Oklahoma to help bring about a greater awareness of the disease and to secure major gifts for local services and national research. She always succeeded at her mission.

During her first visit to Tulsa, a few representatives from the Oklahoma Chapter gathered at the home of Linda Mitchell , who was then our board president. This was the beginning of a true friendship between Maureen and the Oklahoma Chapter.

She loved needlepoint, she hated doing early morning interviews, and she was a woman of her word. We have lost a great friend who cannot be replaced. Our tribute will be to carry on her father’s work to the best of our ability and to remember her strength, encouragement, and determination for getting the job done.”

Judi Ver Hoef
CEO, Oklahoma Chapter
Alzheimer's Association

“We can all learn a lot by the way Maureen lived life. She was one of those people who come into this world and make a difference to every person they touch. I have lost a wonderful friend and mentor, but even sadder, the world has lost a tireless crusader, a compassionate leader, and a woman who loved life. Maureen will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.”

Lisa Huenink,
Former Director of Development,
Greater Chicagoland Chapter;
Director of Communications and
Corporate Relations, Lookingglass
Theatre Company

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