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Reagan, Ronald Wilsonlocked

(06 February 1911–05 June 2004)
  • Michael Schaller


Reagan, Ronald Wilson (06 February 1911–05 June 2004), governor of California and fortieth president of the United States, was born in Tampico, Illinois, the second son of John Edward “Jack” Reagan, a shoe salesman, and Nelle Wilson. The future president lived in a series of rural Illinois towns before his family settled in Dixon in 1920. Jack Reagan struggled with alcoholism most of his life, forcing the family to relocate frequently, often just ahead of the bill collector. Nelle Reagan, a fervently religious member of the Protestant evangelical Disciples of Christ, held the family together and encouraged her son, nicknamed “Dutch,” to stay in school and participate in drama and sports. As a teenager and a young adult Reagan worked seven summers as a local lifeguard and was credited with saving over seventy swimmers from drowning. From 1928 until 1932 Reagan attended nearby Eureka College, a small, religiously affiliated institution, where he majored in economics and sociology. As he had in high school, he served as student body president at Eureka and acted in campus plays....

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