East Texans Recall Former President's Visit - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/7/04-East Texas

East Texans Recall Former President's Visit

  President Ronald Reagan's life both in and out of the White House took him to all parts of the globe.
  During those travels the man they call "The Great Communicator" used his unique talent to touch the lives of many people. KLTV 7 sat down with two East Texans who met the former President while he was on a campaign trip through East Texas in 1980.
  "He had the ability to speak to you and you believed what he was saying."
  That is the impression Wade Riley gives when you ask him about Ronald Reagan. Ridley has fond memories of the man he first met while working on his 1980 campaign. Old photographs and newspaper clippings help to take him back now, the memories still make him smile.
  "He gave a speech at Harvey Hall and it was filled up and that was the day he made the statement that if he were elected he would like for Tyler to send some roses to the Rose Garden."
  Four years later, Ridley helped make good on that deal. He led a group of East Texans to the White House. They left behind some Tyler roses, and came away with a deeper understanding of the president.
  "When he talked to you it wasn't like he was going through the motions," he said "He got in and really visited and reminisced about his previous trips to Tyler when he was with General Electric and came here for the Rose Festival in the 50's.
  Tyler attorney Gaylord Hughey also worked on the 1980 campaign. It would be one of many times he would meet the president, but it would prove to be one of the most significant.
  "I was new at the game and it was exciting to have any involvement with any presidential aspirant," he said. "He was a person of great aura and great presence and upon reflection and having seen him in his presidency, he was a man of great principal."
  It was that principal that helped to shape President Reagan's legacy. A legacy these two men say will live on.
  Ridley says he's not quite sure what became of those Tyler roses.
  Both men say they cherish their time with the former president, and will forever value the pictures and memories.

Chris Gibson, reporting
cgibson@kltv.com

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