Former Campaign Chairman Shares Memories of Reagan Visit - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/8/04 - Tyler

Former Campaign Chairman Shares Memories of Reagan Visit

In 1984, Maxine Harris served as the Reagan re-election campaign chairman in Panola County. 
Years later, she couldn't believe how easy it was to contact the former president .
"In '91 some friends and I were planning a trip to Los Angeles and we knew that President Reagan had set up personal offices there," Maxine said. "So we decided just to call and see if we could come by, and we called them and they said sure."
The moment he greeted her on that day in 1991, Maxine says time stood still.
"I was awe struck," she said. "I was thrilled to meet with someone I saw as an important human being."
During the short visit, Reagan's photographer took candid and formal pictures. The formal pictures were later autographed and sent to Maxine.
She wanted to make sure he would not forget his visitors from Panola County, so she gave him a gift, uniquely East Texas.
"My husband made a picture frame out of native East Texas Cedar and we framed a photograph I had taken of a sunset on Lake Murval, and he was very appreciative."
The former first lady was not on hand for Maxine's visit, but Nancy made up for her absence with a gift of her own.
"I really wanted to meet her but she wasn't there, and I didn't think anymore about it. Then about two weeks after we got home, she had sent me an autographed photo of herself."
Maxine took news of Reagan's death over the weekend personally, even though she knew of his longtime battle with Alzheimer's.
"It was still upsetting and it was kind of like loosing a member of the family that you don't see very often but you care a lot of about."
Though she is saddened by his death, Maxine has pictures and memories that will survive along with the legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Story by Maya Golden, mgolden@kltv.com

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