Life of Ronald Reagan | Timeline

June 11, 2018

Timeline of the Life of Ronald Reagan

The life of Ronald Reagan has been examined from a range of angles, from the personal to the political, and everything in between. Perhaps one of the best ways to really understand the depth and breadth of the legacy the president left us with is to look at the life of Ronald Reagan from end to end. By considering his impact from this vantage point, it is easier to see the factors that led to his success, how he used those early life lessons to overcome obstacles and just how much one man was able to accomplish in the course of his lifetime.

  • 1911: On Feb. 6, Ronald Reagan was born in a small town in Illinois. His father was a salesman and his mother was very active in her church.
  • 1922: Reagan is baptized into the Disciples of Christ faith, following in his mother’s footsteps. He would later say that his upbringing in this Protestant religion had a strong influence on his world outlook, including his emphasis on equality and belief in the individual goodness each person possesses.
  • 1927: He gets his first job, as a lifeguard, where he would go on to perform dozens of rescues. The position is among the factors that would spark his interest in sports.
  • 1932: Reagan graduated Eureka College with a degree in economics and sociology. Those two areas of study would lay the groundwork for the focus of his future presidency.
  • 1937: Pursuing his passion for acting, he earns his first starring role in “Love is on the Air.” Reagan would go to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers. His acting career is largely credited with instilling the exemplary communication skills for which the president was known.
  • 1942: Five years after joining the Army Reserve, Reagan is ordered to active duty for the first time.
  • 1952: Reagan marries Nancy Davis. They have two children, in addition to his two older children from a previous marriage. He and Nancy would remain married until his death.
  • 1962: He switches political parties from Democrat to Republican.
  • 1964: Reagan rises to national prominence during his campaigning for conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. He delivers one of his most famous speeches, “A Time for Choosing,” while on the campaign trail for Goldwater.
  • 1966: He defeats a two-term incumbent to become the next governor of California. He was re-elected four years later.
  • 1980: After losing the Republican nomination for president to incumbent Gerald Ford in 1976, Reagan successfully secures his party’s nomination and later wins the general election to become the 40th president of the United States.
  • 1981: Reagan signs into law the Economic Recovery Tax Act, considered a major win for the middle class.
  • 1983: On March 23, the president announces the Strategic Defense Initiative, a program aimed at revolutionizing how the military protects the nation.
  • 1984: The president wins a second term.
  • 1987: Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to reduce nuclear missiles.
  • 1989: Reagan officially turns over the White House to his successor, George H.W. Bush, on Jan. 20.
  • 1994: Reagan announces that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He delivers his final public speech on Feb. 3 of that year.
  • 2001: He turns 90, becoming only the third former president to reach that age.
  • 2004: Reagan dies at home of complications from pneumonia on June 5.

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