Nancy Reagan, the helpmate, backstage adviser, and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president—and finally during his 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease—died Sunday at the age of 94, reports the AP, via CBS News. The cause was congestive heart failure, notes ABC News. In addition to her famous campaign against drugs, the one-time actress promoted several causes while she was in the White House and even in the years after. She was a passionate advocate for lifting restrictions on stem cell research and promoting better treatment of America's veterans. But above all, Nancy Reagan was a fiercely devoted wife. "My life began with Ronnie," she told Vanity Fair magazine in 1998. The first lady's public life had its share of controversy but also earned the respect of the nation, making Nancy Reagan one of America's most admired women in the 1980s and beyond.
Anne Frances "Nancy" Robbins was born on July 6, 1921 in New York City to Kenneth Robbins, a car salesman, and Edith Luckett Robbins, an actress. She met Ronald Reagan in 1950, when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild and she was seeking help with a problem: Her name had been wrongly included on a published list of suspected communist sympathizers. They discussed it over dinner, and she later wrote that she realized on that first blind date "he was everything that I wanted." They wed two years later, on March 4, 1952. She was thrust into the political life when her husband ran for California governor in 1966 and won. She found it a surprisingly rough business. "The movies were custard compared to politics," she said. The couple had two children together, Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott. Reagan will be buried next to her late husband at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The New York Times has a full obituary here. (Read more Nancy Reagan stories.)