Political dignitaries, celebrities pay final tribute to Nancy Reagan

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Nancy Reagan's Funeral Held Today

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., March 11 (Reuters) - Nearly 1,000 guests, led by first lady Michelle Obama and representatives from nine former White House families, gathered on Friday for a memorial tribute to Nancy Reagan at her late husband's presidential library in Southern California.

A military honor guard carried her flower-bedecked wooden casket to the front of a large white tent where Michelle Obama sat beside former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, and two fellow former first ladies - Jimmy Carter's wife, Rosalyn, and the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton.

SEE ALSO: A love story: Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan completed each other

Sitting nearby were two of the Reagans' children - her daughter Patti Davis and son, Ron Jr., along with Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John Kennedy.

The service brought together Republicans and Democrats alike to pay final respects for a woman especially admired by political conservatives at a time when deep partisan rancor has reverberated through Washington and the 2016 presidential campaign.

Early in the service, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney recalled how the late President Ronald Reagan once joked to him privately about their respective wives, "You know, Brian, for two Irishmen, we sure married up."

See photos from the funeral

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Political dignitaries, celebrities pay final tribute to Nancy Reagan
The casket of US former First Lady Nancy Reagan is carried to her funeral service on March 11, 2016, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
The casket carrying Nancy Reagan arrives for the funeral service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A security officer stands guard before the funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives for the funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Former President George W. Bush, left, and Hillary Clinton arrive at the funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
SIMI VALLEY CA MARCH 11: Actor Tom Selleck arrives for funeral services being held for former first lady Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley. Mrs Reagan will be buried next to her husband on the property. (Photo by Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images)
SIMI VALLEY CA MARCH 11: Larry King and his wife Shawn King arrive for funeral services being held for former first lady Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley. Mrs Reagan will be buried next to her husband on the property. (Photo by Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images)
SIMI VALLEY, CA MARCH 11: First lady Michelle Obama, center, arrives with former President George Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, right, and Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, left, for funeral services being held for former first lady Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, California. Mrs. Reagan will be buried next to her husband on the property. (Photo by Irfan Khan-Pool/Getty Images)
The Reverend Stuart A. Kenworthy (R) watches as the casket of US former First Lady Nancy Reagan is carried to her funeral service on March 11, 2016, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney speaks during the funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Opera singer Ana Maria Martinez sings Ave Maria during the funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Diane Sawyer speaks during the funeral service for Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The Santa Susana High School Choir sings during funeral services, as US former First Lady Nancy Reagan is laid to rest next to her husband, former US President Ronald Reagan, on March 11, 2016, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Theirs was a love story for the ages," Mulroney said of the Reagans. "They had style, they had grace and they had class."

In his eulogy, Reagan's former White House chief of staff James Baker remembered NancyReagan as the "consummate political wife and first lady" and a woman whose devotion to her husband was critical to his political success.

She was to the president, Baker recalled, "absolutely without a doubt his closest adviser," adding that she was particularly adept at knowing who was truly loyal to him.

See photos of Nancy Reagan through the years

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Nancy Reagan through the years
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Political dignitaries, celebrities pay final tribute to Nancy Reagan
Cal State University Long Beach library dean and director Roman Kochan displays a signed photo of former President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan with former California Gov. George Deukmejian. The photo is among stacks of large boxes of files from Former California Gov. George Deukmejian. Gov. Deukmejian recently donated his official archives to Cal State Long Beach, moving the collection from Stanford. The move, which Deukmejian said had to do with his residence in Long Beach, is unusual since it is the last time a former governor has say over where his official papers can go. And its restrictions on access has raised some eyebrows among librarians. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Nancy Reagan attends Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Gala Honoring Bob Hope on May 29, 1997 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
(L-R) Peter Lund, Nancy Reagan and Sandy Weill attend Fifth Annual National Center on Addicition and Substance Abuse Gala on March 18, 1997 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan attends Rita Hayworth Alzheimer's Disease Benefit Gala on October 30, 1996 at Tavern on the Green in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan and Sophia Loren attend Valentine's Day Luncheon Honoring Sophia Loren on February 10, 1993 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend the opening night of 'Sunset Blvd' on December 9, 1993 at the Shubert Theater in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend American Television Awards on May 23, 1993 at the Barker Hanger at Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan attends Children Institute International Benefit Fashion Show on February 14, 1992 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan attend Children Institute International Benefit Fashion Show on February 14, 1992 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan and Rosia Gorbachev attend 75th Anniversary Party for Forbes Magazine on May 11, 1992 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend Carousel of Hope Ball Benefit on October 2, 1992 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend Fourth Annual Nancy Reagan Benefit Tennis Tournament on October 10, 1992 at the Riviera Tennis Club in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend Third Annual Nancy Reagan Benefit Tennis Tournament on October 5, 1991 at Pacific Palisades in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend Second Annual Nancy Reagan Benefit Tennis Tournament on October 6, 1990 at Pacific Palisades in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan attend Father's Day Party on June 17, 1990 at Chasen's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan attend Carousel of Hope Ball Benefit on October 26, 1990 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan attend Warner Brothers Rededication Gala on June 2, 1990 at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan attends Spirit of America Awards on December 13, 1990 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan sighted on October 5, 1990 at Chasen's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress Nancy Reagan attends Cedars-Sinai Hospital Benefit on August 29, 1989 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Nancy Reagan attends American Jewis Committee Awards Gala on November 4, 1989 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan attend Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala Exhibition 'Vanity Fair - A Treasure Trove of the Costume Institute' on December 12, 1977 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (L) embraces former US First Lady Nancy Reagan before the unveiling a statue of her husband, President Ronald Reagan on June 3, 2009 during ceremonies in the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
NANCY REAGAN -- Pictured: First Lady Nancy Reagan, White House dog Lucky (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NANCY REAGAN -- Pictured: (center) First Lady Nancy Reagan (Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 19: ABC NEWS - PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION - 1981 Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 19: ABC NEWS - PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION - 1981 Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, George H. W. Bush (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
DIFF'RENT STROKES-- 'The Reporter' Episode 22 -- Aired 3/19/83 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nancy Reagan as herself, Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson (Photo by Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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The services for the onetime Hollywood actress and first lady capped two days during which thousands of mourners filed past her coffin as it lay in repose at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles.

She was to be buried beside her husband in a private graveside service at the library Friday evening.

Organizers said 950 guests in all were expected for the memorial service, held under overcast skies that partly shrouded gently sloped mountains in the background.

Always fiercely protective of her husband, Nancy Reagan was regarded as one of the most influential presidential spouses in U.S. history during his Republican administration from 1981 to 1989.

She died on Sunday of congestive heart failure at age 94. Ronald Reagan died in 2004 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease, the progressive brain disorder that destroys memory. He was 93.

"They truly loved each other," Edwin Meese, the longtime Reagan aide who served as attorney general in his Cabinet, told reporters. "Her life really was devoted to encouraging and supporting him, and that carried on even after he went into total seclusion and even when he was no longer capable of really sometimes even responding to that love."

Biographer Craig Shirley recalled that Nancy Reagan also played a direct role at times in the political affairs of her husband, such as having a hand in the firing of campaign manager John Sears in 1980 and the dismissal of chief of staff Donald Regan in 1987.

In addition to Michelle Obama, the roster of invited guests to the memorial included close relatives of all of President Barack Obama's nine immediate predecessors, including children of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Others included television news veterans Diane Sawyer and Tom Brokaw, as well as such showbiz figures as Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston and Wayne Newton.



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