By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Amanda Marriage once had a direct phone number for the White House.
She used it several times - but only to give birthday wishes to her friend, President Ronald Reagan.
The nation's 40th president died Saturday from Alzheimer's-related complications.
Marriage, an 86-year-old Deer Park resident, was friends with Reagan and his wife, Nancy, during the 22 years she lived in Southern California. They lived just down the street from each other.
Nancy Reagan was a member of the Republican Women's Club with Marriage. In 1965, the group needed someone to speak at a local luncheon, and Marriage invited Reagan.
"After we had lunch, all of us ladies asked him questions for three or four hours more. We bothered him and bugged him," she recalled. "By the time he left, we got him to agree to run for governor."
The ladies of the club, Marriage included, worked tirelessly on Reagan's fund-raising campaign for governor, hosting fashion shows, putting literature on car windshields in parking lots, even selling watches with Reagan's mug on the face.
"We promised him that day we would get him elected," Marriage said.
Reagan became governor of California the next year, serving two terms.
"He was a good governor and a good president," Marriage said. "I supported him so much, because we needed him."
Amanda Marriage, 86, of Deer Park, who lived in southern California for 22 years, campaigned for Ronald Reagan two times when he ran for Governor of California and twice when he ran for President.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
Even while running a real estate business, Marriage again donated her time to fund-raising during Reagan's run for the presidency.
In 1980, when Reagan defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter, Marriage celebrated at the inaugural ceremony in Washington, D.C.
"I didn't stay there for the ball," she said. "I just wanted to be there to see him sworn into office."
Marriage now lives in Aspen Amber Park retirement community. Her apartment is peppered with evidence of her political beliefs, from the American flag and 2003 Reagan Ranch membership badge on her door to the photographs of George W. Bush on the wall and the tiny elephant statue on her table.
It's been several years since she has spoken with the Reagans. Still, Marriage feels a connection with Nancy.
Marriage also lost a husband to Alzheimer's disease. Howard Bertram Marriage passed away in November 1989.
"When (Reagan) admitted he had Alzheimer's, that was so hard. It was devastating," she said. "I thought, 'Poor Nancy,' because I knew what she would be going through."
Special section: Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004