LOS ANGELES -- U.S. flags on public buildings across the country were lowered to half-staff today in memory of Nancy Reagan, while officials announced that funeral services will be held Friday for the former first lady, who died in her sleep Sunday at her Bel Air home at age 94.
Following a directive from President Barack Obama, the U.S. flag was lowered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, where Nancy Reagan will be laid to rest next to her husband.
"I think it's been well-documented the extraordinary love that she had for her husband, and the extraordinary comfort and strength she provided him during really hard times," Obama said in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. "As somebody who is lucky enough to have an extraordinary partner in my life as well, I know how much she meant not just to President Reagan but to the country as a whole.
"He was lucky to have her," Obama said. "... She will be missed."
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation announced that funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the library. The service will be closed to the public. A list of expected attendees has not yet been announced.
Nancy Reagan will lie in repose at the Reagan library from 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, giving people a chance to pay their respects. No parking will be allowed at the library. People who want to pay their respects will need to park at the former Bank of America property at 450 American St., Simi Valley, and take a shuttle.
Foundation officials noted that security will be tight, so people should not 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 public until 10 a.m. Sunday.
Speaking on CNN Sunday, the library's Jim Highbush said the memorial events are expected to rival those for Ronald Reagan in 2004, when an estimated 250,000 people went to the hilltop Reagan Library to pay respects to the two-term president.
"It will be very, very similar," Highbush said. "There will be an opportunity for those in the public who would like to pay respects to walk by to see her coffin; and then towards the end of the week we will have a funeral service, where she will be buried next to President Reagan."
Dignitaries expected to attend include former president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, Highbush said.
A fierce protector of her husband Ronald'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, Mrs. 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.
Born Anne Frances Robbins in a troubled home in New York City, she was adopted and gained a new last name from her stepfather, Dr. Loyal Davis, a Chicago physician.
Anne Davis went by the nickname Nancy as she grew up and graduated from Smith College in 1943, did some acting on the Broadway stage and broke into the movies when MGM's George Cukor gave her a bit part in 1949's "East Side, West Side." The studio changed her first name to Nancy.
After the name Nancy Davis was printed in a newspaper letter supporting blacklisted scriptwriters, she sought the help of the Screen Actors Guild to make it clear that she was not that Nancy Davis, and the listing had been a mistake. Ronald Reagan was the president of the guild, who helped her make sure the studios and public made that distinction.
They married in March 1952, and together purchased a home at 1251 Amalfi Drive, 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.
"Hellcats Of the Navy" in 1957 was the only movie they appeared together in, but she continued to act in TV and minor movie roles.
But serving as adviser, counselor and protector of Ronald Reagan turned out to be her biggest role. After her husband delivered a well-received speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention, a group of wealthy Southland donors convinced the couple that he should run for governor in 1966.
They were a team, and Nancy Reagan actively peppered campaign advisers with strategy and tactical recommendations, according to memoirs written by the campaign team. Ronald Reagan won, and they moved to Sacramento, into a dilapidated Victorian governor's mansion that she reportedly disliked.
Reagan's term ended in January 1975 and the family returned to Pacific Palisades. That's where donors met with the couple, encouraging a 1976 White House run to challenge the incumbent GOP president, Gerald Ford.
Reagan narrowly lost the race for the nomination.
Nancy Reagan was active in the 1980 presidential campaign, playing what the New York Times called "a leading role in the firing" of one campaign manager. She received public praise as a classy and elegant first lady but also some blistering criticism, particularly for a $200,000 set of White House china that was purchased with donated funds during an economic recession.
"Just Say No" was her famous tagline from her campaign against youth drug and alcohol use.
In October 1987, the Nancy Reagan received a mastectomy for breast cancer, and she later went on television from the White House to promote cancer awareness and mammograms.
In 1989, at the end of Reagan terms in Washington, the couple retired to a house in Bel Air: the street number was changed from 666 to 668 at the request of Nancy Reagan, who was superstitious and who had made use of a psychic to guide her husband during his presidency.
The Reagans traveled between Bel Air and the Reagan's ranch at Rancho del Cielo, in the mountains above Santa Barbara. The ranch was sold when the ex-president was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994.
Alzheimer's awareness became Nancy Reagan's new campaign, along with burnishing her husband's name and reputation.
After Ronald Reagan's death in June 2004, Nancy Reagan turned over her husband's diaries to biographer Douglas Brinkley, with the admonition not to use them to interpret current events, and that her husband was not an ideologue, but a pragmatic conservative.
Nancy Reagan made one of her last public appearances at the centennial of her husband's birth, in February 2011, on the sun-drenched western porch of the Reagan Library. The Pacific Ocean was on the western horizon, his grave to her side.
"I know that Ronnie would be thrilled, and is thrilled to have all of you sharing his 100th birthday," the frail-looking widow said. "It doesn't seem possible but that's what it is."