Nancy Reagan reportedly said her life "began" when she met Ronald. But he often said the same about her too, and their 50-year marriage is proof of their love and devotion. In a sense, their love story was one for the ages.
It all started out with a blind date. Nancy Davis, a young actress at the time, had just gotten a starring role in her first feature film and Ronald was the President of the Screen Actors Guild and a well-known actor himself.
In a book she wrote later, Nancy revealed she was immediately taken with him. "He wasn't like any other actor I knew — or anybody else in the movie business," she shared. "He didn't talk about himself. He didn't talk about his movies. He talked about a lot of things, but not about 'my next picture, my last picture ...' He was a Civil War buff, loved horses, and knew a lot about wine. In fact, he had a broad knowledge of a lot of different things. I loved to listen to him talk. I loved his sense of humor. I saw it clearly that very first night: He was everything that I wanted."
And he felt the same about her -- but they started things out slowly. He had been married previously and had two children already. He traveled a lot for work and while he was away, he wrote her letters. Their romance continued and by 1952 Nancy was ready to move things forward, so she suggested that she move to New York City for a role and he promptly thwarted those plans by asking for her hand in marriage.
They wed on March 4, 1952, at the Little Brown Church in Los Angeles. On the day of their wedding, Nancy was pregnant with their daughter, Patti, who was born seven months after their nuptials. She stopped working to stay home with their children and he continued his acting career ... and his love letters to her.
"I suppose some people would find it unusual that you and I can so easily span three thousand miles but in truth it comes very naturally. Man can't live without a heart and you are my heart, by far the nicest thing about me and so very necessary. There would be no life without you nor would I want any," Ronald once wrote.
Their marriage was as equals and later Nancy revealed in her book, "I Love You Ronnie" that Ronald often said he felt lost before he met her. Their love letters are evidence of this fact.
Upon their eighth wedding anniversary, Ronald penned, "Thanks to you, I'm just eight years old today." Three years later at their 11th anniversary, he said, "I wonder how I lived at all for all the three hundred and sixty fives before I met you."
The two conquered incredible things and at their roots, they were two people who had very common and normal interests. They loved to ride horses at their ranches in the Santa Monica mountains and later at Rancho de Cielo in Santa Barbara. They loved their children and spent time with them riding bikes, riding horses and working on homework.
Photos of the couple seem to show that they were not only in love, but they had a great time together. In multiple photographs from Ronald's run for California Governor to his bid for the Presidency, to his second inauguration to their time spent out of the White House and out on their ranches, they just seem to have fun with each other.
Ronald always has a loving hand placed on Nancy's arm, they kissed in public -- once right in front of Barbara and George H.W. Bush.
They also were resolute in their love and stood by each other at multiple turns. In 1981, when Ronald was shot during an attempted assassination, Nancy nursed him back to health. In 1987, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, he stood by her side. Even at the end, when their time in the White House was over and Ronald was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Nancy cared for him till his death in 2004.
At his funeral, she wept openly and laid herself across his casket for her final goodbye.
From the beginning to the end, the incredible pair seemed to have truly brought out the best in one another.
On their 31st wedding anniversary Ronald wrote to Nancy, "I more than love you, I'm not whole without you. You are life itself to me."