As they were through some 40 years of their father’s highs and lows, Nixon’s two daughters, Tricia Cox and Julie Eisenhower, were at his side when he died. Pat Nixon, the former First Lady, died last year.
President Clinton announced Nixon’s death at a formal appearance in the White House Rose Garden, praising his predecessor as “a statesman who sought to build a lasting structure of peace.”
Clinton declared a national day of mourning, and said he would attend Nixon’s funeral, which will be held at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif., on Wednesday at 4 p.m. California time. The body of the former congressman, U.S. senator, vice president and president will travel aboard a presidential jet to his native California, and public viewing will be from 3 p.m. Tuesday until 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Nixon will be buried beside his wife. His longtime friend the Rev. Billy Graham will officiate. “I think he was one of the most misunderstood men, and I think he was one of the greatest men of the century,” the Associated Press quoted Graham as saying of the man whose presidency was undone by a web of scandal known as Watergate. An unusually large number of American presidents are still living; statements from each were reported by AP and CNN. “Dick Nixon was one of the finest, if not the finest, foreign policy president of this century,” said Nixon’s successor, former president Gerald R. Ford. Ford’s assessment was widely shared by public figures and ordinary citizens: that Nixon’s greatest achievements were on the world stage.
“His historic visits to China and the Soviet Union paved the way ... to the normalization of relations between our countries, and to the SALT II accords we signed with the Soviets,” said former president Jimmy Carter.
Former president Ronald Reagan, in a statement issued from Los Angeles, said, “Today the world mourns the loss of a great champion of democratic ideals who dedicated his life to the cause of world peace.” Reagan called Nixon “one of the finest statesmen this world has ever seen.”
George Bush, the former president who served as Republican National Committee chairman during Nixon’s presidency, said, “The difficulties he encountered in office may have diminished his presidency, but what should be remembered are his many outstanding achievements, both foreign and domestic.”
Nixon had a stroke at his home in Park Ridge, N.J., shortly before dinner Monday evening and was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Manhattan. For a day, he was alert, but unable to speak or to move his right arm or leg. Apparently improving, he was moved on Tuesday from the intensive care unit to a private room. But on Tuesday night, he developed symptoms of cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain, which caused his condition to worsen. Nixon had said previously he did not want to be placed on a respirator if he were incapacitated.