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What & Who to Expect At the Funeral of Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan was the woman behind the "Just Say No" campaign and a first lady known for adding glamour to the White House. (Thinkstock: Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Nancy Reagan was the woman behind the “Just Say No” campaign and a first lady known for adding glamour to the White House. (Thinkstock: Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The program for the funeral of  Nancy Reagan was released today as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, where she will be buried, braced for hundreds of members of the public to come pay the former first lady their final respects.

Nancy Reagan, who died in her sleep in her Bel Air home of congestive heart failure at the age of 94 on Sunday, will be buried Friday next to the nation’s 40th president and former California governor, with whom she had a love affair spanning more than 50 years.

The ceremony, which will be attended by invited guests, is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. The Reagan library will remain closed to the general public until 10 a.m. this Sunday.

The Reagan Presidential Foundation this morning released the program for the ceremony. It reflected that former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney will read a letter that Ronald Reagan wrote to Nancy Reagan, and broadcaster Diane Sawyer will read a section from the Gospel of John.

Also scheduled to deliver “reflections” are former Secretary of State James Baker, broadcaster Tom Brokaw, and Nancy Reagan’s children, Patti Davis and Ronald Reagan.

Opera soprano Ana Marie Martinez will sing a section from a requiem.

No role in the ceremony was listed for Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and his first wife, the late actress Jane Wyman.

Nancy Reagan, a one-time actress, helped plan many of the details of her memorial and funeral service, from the pallbearers to the guest list to the exact location of her interment at her husband’s side.

A trio of former first ladies, including Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, are expected to attend the service, along with current first lady Michelle Obama, although President Barack Obama is not expected to be there.

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are expected, along with former first lady Rosalynn Carter, according to Reagan Library officials. Tricia Nixon Cox, a daughter of President Richard Nixon, is also expected.

Other expected guests, according to the Reagan Foundation, are Capt. Christopher Bolt, the commander of the USS Ronald Reagan; Katie Couric; Sam Donaldson; Chris Matthews; Newt and Callista Gingrich; Wayne Newton; Anjelica Huston; Melissa Rivers; Tina Sinatra; and Mr. T, the burly actor who took an active role in Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign in the 1980s.

Nancy Reagan lay in repose at the Reagan Library until 7 p.m. Wednesday and will do so again from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today to give members of the public a chance to bid her farewell.

Beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday, doors to the museum were opened for people to view the casket, which was placed on a pedestal in the lobby, draped with yellow flowers and encircled by black velvet ropes.

Overflow crowds attended the visitation. Reagan Foundation officials said 15 shuttle buses, seating 50 people each, ran between a remote parking area and the museum during the visitation. By about 5 p.m., there were still more than 1,000 people waiting at the parking area to be shuttled to the viewing, according to the foundation.

The parking area is located at the former Bank of America property at 400 National Way in Simi Valley.

During Wednesday’s visitation, 65-year-old Los Angeles Times photographer Ricardo DeAratanha was arrested on suspicion of resisting and obstructing a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor, while transmitting photographs of the funeral motorcade, the newspaper reported today.

Simi Valley police said he refused to identify himself and balked at providing identification, but the photographer’s attorney denied it, saying DeAratanha provided press credentials, including identification cards issued by The Times and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The attorney said officers swarmed DeAratanha, threw him to the ground and cuffed him. He was later taken to a hospital, where he was treated for a sprained elbow, according to The Times.

Ronald Reagan Foundation officials, noting that tight security has been ordered, advised people not to bring large bags, cameras or strollers to the viewings. Gifts and flowers again will only be accepted today at the bottom of Presidential Drive and at the shuttle pickup location.

According to the Reagan Foundation, Nancy Reagan requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Fund at www.reaganlibrary.com.

Until Wednesday morning, the casket was at the Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy funeral home in Santa Monica, where relatives gathered around 9 a.m. for a private service conducted by the Rev. Stuart A. Kenworthy, the vicar of Washington National Cathedral and the man who will lead Friday’s funeral service. He was assisted by the Rev. Donn Moomaw, the Reagan’s family minister.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nancy Reagan’s casket was placed in a large black hearse to begin the trek to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Her casket was attended by eight pallbearers — all U.S. Secret Service agents who worked for her or her husband over the years.

As the motorcade made its way north on the San Diego (405) Freeway, onlookers could be seen on overpasses to watch the procession below. The Los Angeles Fire Department displayed large American flags at a pair of locations along the route. When the motorcade transitioned to the westbound Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway, about a dozen LAFD firefighters stood at attention along the shoulder of the roadway and saluted as the hearse passed.

Nancy Reagan was the woman behind the “Just Say No” campaign and a first lady known for adding glamour to the White House.

The Reagans were married in March 1952 and lived in Pacific Palisades until they moved to Sacramento in 1966. They had two children together, Patti and Ron Jr., and she also helped raise Ronald Reagan’s two children with his first wife, Jane Wyman.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan were both actors, but “Hellcats Of the Navy” in 1957 was the only movie in which they appeared together, although she later continued to act in TV and minor movie roles.

Her biggest roles, however, were not on the screen, but as Ronald Reagan’s adviser, counselor and fierce protector when he was in public life, and later, as his chief caregiver after he became stricken by Alzheimer’s disease. Reagan died in June 2004.

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