When remembering Nancy Reagan, Macon's Katherine Hutto recalls a certain look on the former first lady's face when Marine One was landing on the south lawn of the White House.
Hutto served as a staff assistant to former White House Chief of Staff James Baker during Ronald Reagan's first term as president. Gathered on the lawn with other staff members, Hutto glanced up at the balcony where Nancy Reagan stood alone as her husband landed in the presidential helicopter.
"The absolute love and devotion on her face, I just remember being stunned by the incredible emotions on her face," Hutto said Monday. "She absolutely adored her husband."
The couple had already been married for decades, but the depth of their love was clear to Hutto, who frequently saw the first lady in the hallway when she visited the West Wing.
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Hutto said the impeccably dressed former actress brought her strong morals and values to the White House and established a new respect for the role of first lady.
"It wasn't just the way she dressed. It was in the way she carried herself," Hutto said.
She believed in everyone getting along, despite political differences, and was a great friend to the president.
Hutto said Nancy Reagan was a political pioneer for women such as Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina.
"She was just very strong in a very feminine way," Hutto said.
Richard E. "Dick" Hyer, a former superintendent of the Georgia Academy for the Blind, remembers being surprised by Reagan's petite stature when she visited the Vineville Avenue campus days before her husband won re-election in 1984.
"She was a very small, slight lady," Hyer said Monday by phone from his north Georgia retirement home.
Reagan warmly greeted Hyer's wife and two sons as she entered the school for a tour 32 years ago in early November.
Hyer's 6-year-old son, Brooks, asked the first lady how many horses they had at the California ranch.
Although she didn't know offhand, Brooks got a signed letter in the mail about a week later with the total.
"It was a thrill for us. The whole experience was a thrill for us," Hyer said.
During her 30-minute tour of the school, Reagan was impressed by the choir's rendition of "Georgia on my Mind."
"She seemed to be very interested in the academy," Hyer said.
Frank Reynolds, who has been the academy's residential adviser for 38 years, said he paid attention to the students' reactions during her visit.
"They were excited that the first lady of the United States came for a visit," Reynolds said.
Former Bibb County Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop, a staunch Republican, was deputy police chief when Reagan visited that day.
He remembers her requesting the security detail lineup as she boarded the plane at Middle Georgia Regional Airport.
"She was a real sweet lady," Bishop said Monday.
He posted on Facebook a picture of the first lady shaking his hand.
When the White House sent out copies of the photographs, he was invited to send it back for an autograph.
"I never sent it back," he said. "I kept putting it off. I wish I had."
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 and follow her on Twitter@liz_lines.