Maureen Reagan (1941-2001), born on this day in California, was the daughter of President Ronald Reagan and actress Jane Wyman. A ray of hope, she was deeply committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease after her father's diagnosis.
"I'm at war with Alzheimer's, and I plan to win," she once said. "This disease is a thief that sneaks into the brain and robs a family of everything that is dear as it takes the loved one."
A political analyst, outspoken feminist, and staunch Republican, she ran twice, unsuccessfully, for California public office--for the U.S. Senate in 1982 and the House in 1992.
When she learned in 1996 that the spot on the back of her right thigh was a malignant melanoma, she approached aggressive treatment with a positive attitude. "I had so many nuclear tests I was a night light," she joked in 1998.
As she battled the deadly disease, she became an advocate for awareness, spreading the word about the importance of sun protection, skin self-examinations, and early detection.
Examine yourself "from the top of your head to the tip of your toes," she said. Believed to be in remission, the fatal disease returned with a vengeance in 2001.
Actor David Hyde Pierce said in tribute, "Maureen took care of people, took in the sense of taking charge, taking control, taking the reins, and when she was given lemons in life, she did not make lemonade -- she took the lemons and threw them back, and said, oh no, you don't."
Work together, with passion, to bring about change.