Mourners Gather at Reagan Library to Honor Former First Lady | NBC Southern California

Mourners Gather at Reagan Library to Honor Former First Lady

A trio of former first ladies, including Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Rosalynn Carter and Laura Bush are among those expected to attend Friday's funeral service, along with current first lady Michelle Obama.

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    A procession for First Lady Nancy Reagan arrived at the Reagan Library and Museum for a public viewing. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday March 9, 2016. (Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016)

    Mourners saluted from freeway overpasses and lined Southern California streets Wednesday morning as a memorial procession for former first lady Nancy Reagan traveled to the Reagan Library, where a funeral service is scheduled for Friday.

    Thousands are expected to trek to Simi Valley, California, through Thursday to pay their final respects to Reagan, who died in Bel Air Sunday at age 94. The former first lady will lie in repose at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum from 1 to 7 p.m. and again from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

    Her casket was taken from a Santa Monica funeral home in a motorcade Wednesday morning to the Library, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where it will remain for the public viewing. Firefighters, police officers and others saluated the motorcade as it passed below several freeway overpasses during the journey north through West Los Angeles, into the San Fernando Valley and west to Simi Valley.

    Eight U.S. Secret Service agents served as pallbearers. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Kinnersley was assigned to President Ronald Reagan after he left office, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. The seven others all served Nancy Reagan in the past: Supervisory Special Officer Christopher Cousino and special agents Thomas Feuerborn, Tim Yoshitake, Cory Chhiap, Steven Kulpaca, Nathan Judd and Melanie Lentz.

    Mourners Line Nancy Reagan Procession Route

    [LA] Mourners Line Nancy Reagan Procession Route
    Firefighters, police and others saluted Nancy Reagan as her memorial procession traveled from Santa Monica to Simi Valley. Annette Arreola reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday March 9, 2016. (Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016)

    People hoping to view the casket will not be able to drive to the museum but will have to park at the former Bank of America property at 400 National Way in Simi Valley and take a shuttle.

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

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

    The Reagan library will remain closed to the general public until 10 a.m. Sunday.

    There's no estimate of how many people will attend during the two-day visitation, but the museum is bracing for large crowds since Nancy Reagan's funeral service at 11 a.m. Friday will be closed to the public.

    A trio of former first ladies, including Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, are among those expected to attend Friday's funeral service, along with current first lady Michelle Obama, although President Barack Obama is not expected to be there. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on March 11 and Michelle Obama was scheduled to speak there on March 16. 

    "Mrs. Reagan was a woman of incredible strength and grace and she was a passionate advocate for so many important issues," Michelle Obama said Tuesday. 

    "For the example she set both during her time in the White House and beyond, Mrs. Reagan reminded us of the importance of women's leadership at every level of society. And on a personal note, Mrs. Reagan also understood the value of mentoring," she said.

    The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

    "She warmly and willingly offered advice and encouragement to me as I settled in to my role as first lady, and I am so grateful for her kindness and generosity to me and my family over the years."

    Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday that Hillary Clinton "is going to drop off the (campaign) trail briefly on Friday to attend Nancy Reagan's funeral services in California."

    Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are also expected to attend, along with former first lady Rosalynn Carter, according to officials at the Reagan Library.

    Former President Lyndon Johnson's daughters, Luci and Lynda, are expected to attend, along with Tricia Nixon Cox, a daughter of President Richard Nixon.

    Nancy Reagan Remembered by Former Staffer

    [LA] Nancy Reagan Remembered by Former Staffer
    SoCal native Tina Thomson worked as a staffer on the advance team for former First Lady Nancy Reagan during her time at the White House. Thomson spoke with NBC4's Conan Nolan about her memories of Mrs. Reagan March 7, 2016 for the NBC4 News at 5. (Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016)

    Nancy Reagan will be buried next to her husband, the 40th president, with whom she had a love affair spanning five decades.

    U.S. flags on public buildings across the country -- and at the Reagan\ Library -- were lowered to half-staff in her memory Monday, following a directive from the president.

    A fierce protector of her husband's presidential legacy, the woman behind the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign and the first lady known for tasteful glamour at the White House, Nancy Reagan died of congestive heart failure while asleep at the Bel Air home where she had lived since 1989, Ronald Reagan Foundation spokeswoman Joanne Drake said.

    The Reagans were married in March 1952 and purchased a home in Pacific Palisades, where they lived until a move 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.

    Nancy Reagan Through the Years

    [NATL-LA] Nancy Reagan Through the Years
    Memories of the remarkable life of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Colleen Williams reports for the NBC4 News. (Published Monday, March 7, 2016)

    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 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 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.

    Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, said in a statement on her website that her mother "had been in poor health for quite a while, and recently had gotten markedly worse, so this wasn't a surprise."

    "That said, death always feels like a surprise," she said. "I appreciate the attention and prayers of people I will probably never meet. Just as when my father died, there is comfort in feeling surrounded by gentle thoughts and kind wishes, often sent out by strangers.

    "And just as when my father died, we will honor my mother publicly -- stand on the public stage and share as much as we can. Then, when that is completed, we'll draw the circle in a little tighter and deal with the often complicated map of personal loss."