Farewell to the Gipper

Joe with Pres. Reagan

Joe Scheidler with President Ronald Reagan during Jan. 22, 1986 White House summit with national pro-lifer leaders

It was during Mass at a University of Steubenville pro-life conference that I heard Ronald Reagan had died, when we prayed for his soul during the Prayers of the Faithful. It was an appropriate setting for such news. Reagan was a man of strong faith and an courageous voice for the unborn. We will miss him.

I had the opportunity to meet Reagan three times, first when he was running for President and I organized an impromptu rally for him at O’Hare Airport. I walked him to a waiting car, and said, “The next time you come to Chicago it will be on Air Force One”—and it was.

I met Reagan twice in the Oval Office when he met with national pro-life leaders on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. At one meeting I sat directly opposite Reagan with my own jar of jelly beans. His presence can only be described as electric.

Perhaps Reagan could have done more for the unborn, and his appointment of Sandra Day O’Conner continues to be a disappointment. But he did much with other court appointments, numerous executive orders, and important pieces of legislation, as well as his eloquent 1983 statement, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.

I can conclude this tribute to Ronald Regan no better than to quote from a letter he wrote Nancy in 1966:

God has a plan and it isn’t for us to understand, only to know that He has His reasons and because He is all merciful and all loving we can depend on it that there is a purpose in whatever He does and it is for our own good. What you must understand without any question or doubt is that I believe this and trust Him and you must, too.

. . . And so must we all. May God rest his great soul.

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