Tyler Woman Recalls Time With "Ronnie"

Ronald Reagan had the unique ability to connect with people. Most everyone who met the former President has a heart warming story to tell.

One of those stories comes from an East Texas woman who had the opportunity to meet the former President while he was on a promotional tour in Tyler in 1957. Betty Sproule talks fondly of the man she simply calls "Ronnie".

"He was so dear, he couldn't have been nicer to everyone."

It is not hard for her to recall the time she spent with the man who would be President.

"Polite, fun... he had a light touch on him all the time that we were with him."

It was the early part of 1957. Her husband Tom, was manger of the General Electric plant in Tyler. Ronald Reagan was still an actor then, in town to promote the company. For four days, it was Tom's job to escort him around the city.

"I think he was enchanted with Tyler, the people, the beauty of it. I think he liked Tyler."

The future President came back to Tyler a few months later for the Rose Festival. At a dinner, the friendship created on that first meeting once again showed through. Betty recalls a specific comment.

"They served one fork and I said 'Ronnie you're going to have to lick that fork real well' because they had such a big crowd they didn't have enough for two forks for everybody.. he just got a big kick out of that."

It would be 20 years from that meeting that their friend, the actor, would take on the role of the President. Betty says her impression of the man never changed.

"He had such a positive attitude and I just think this is so important. There he was achieving his goals and the goals for our country. I'll never forget it, never."

"It was a fun time, it was a wonderful time."

Betty says it always made her feel good to see President Reagan leading the country. She believes it's important his legacy live on with future generations.

Chris Gibson, reporting