Nancy Reagan’s recent passing has prompted many people to express a wide range of emotions on social media. Conservatives remember President Ronald Reagan’s widow as a strong, positive and caring individual. She died 12 years after her husband, the 40th president of the United States.
One Advent Christian Village member who has very positive memories of the Reagans is Margy DeGeorge. Margy had the privilege of working with President Reagan over the course of a year and a half. She shared meals with him and met with him, and, according to Margy, he was “extremely charming.”
Margy grew up in Ohio. She attended Ohio State University and earned a degree in home economics with a child development (child education) minor. She ended up in Atlanta, Georgia, as a guidance counselor. Then, she went to work for Georgia Power as a home economist. Her job was to demonstrate appliances and to design electrical layouts for homes. During her time with Georgia Power, she estimates she designed layouts for a couple thousand apartments. She also put together a newsletter.
When the home economist position was eliminated, Margy transitioned into public information, still with Georgia Power. During this time, Atlanta was being inundated with murders and people going missing. In response, Margy started an education program aimed at every grade level (K through college) and young adults. The purpose of the program was to get kids off the street, where they would be safe, and to transition young adults into jobs. The participants were taught skills such as how to shake hands, personal grooming, and how to write a letter — skills not taught in schools, but which are important for professional success. Atlanta businesses partnered with Georgia Power and hired the young adults to give them on-the-job training. Some of these temporary workers were hired permanently.
The program was such a success that President Reagan took notice and invited Margy to Washington, D.C. He wanted to develop a national program for disadvantaged youth based on what Georgia Power was accomplishing.
Margy traveled to Washington every six weeks to meet with President Reagan and the lead people from the national companies involved (companies such as IBM, Xerox, Ford and AT&T). Margy was the only female in the group and the president always made sure to sit beside her. “He was a very genuine, compassionate person,” remarks Margy. “He was always immaculately dressed. He always wore brown.” She goes on to say that he had a gorgeous smile, intense eyes, and that his sense of humor was “fantastic.”
It’s not often that you get to see a truly human side of such a public figure, but Margy did. For instance, according to Margy, most of the lunches the committee shared during their meetings were “box lunches” which included a slice of cheesecake. Only a few of the desserts would be eaten, and President Reagan would ask everyone to leave their uneaten slices when they left. When everyone was gone but him and Margy, they would gather the cheesecakes to enjoy between the two of them. As if this wasn’t funny enough, she adds that President Reagan would position the slices in front of Margy and told her that if Nancy walked in, she was to say they were all for her because Nancy didn’t allow him to eat cheesecake.
After the program was up and running — after the year and a half — President Reagan invited Margy to Washington once more to be recognized with a “Summer Jobs Award” in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 17, 1984. She says she didn’t have contact with President Reagan after that, but she still has the fond memories of meeting a truly extraordinary man.