DIXON – A woman who worked side by side with former President Ronald Reagan for 10 years told a crowd what he was really like out of the spotlight and public eye.
Peggy Grande, who was Reagan’s executive assistant after he left the White House, was the guest speaker at the Night To Remember Ronald Reagan dinner Friday night at the Dixon Elks Lodge. The dinner is a fundraiser for the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home and was hosted by the Lee County Republicans Central Committee along with the Boyhood Home.
“He was a man of incredible kindness. When he took over as president, he changed the culture,” Grande said. “When he was done, he said he was most proud that he made the American people believe in themselves again.”
In her role as executive assistant for Reagan, Grande spent countless hours working alongside the 40th president helping to plan his events, travel and serving as official photographer at many of the events Reagan was asked to attend.
She also was the conduit through which people from all sorts of backgrounds – famous and just typical citizens – got to meet with Reagan to discuss a wide variety of subjects. Grande has met political powerhouses such as former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Mother Teresa.
“The most powerful thing I saw was when a woman from Romania came to his office and fell at his feet and thanked President Reagan for her freedom,” Grande said.
She is from California where she still lives with her husband and four children, and that’s where the connection with the former president began. When Reagan moved back to California after his terms as president were completed, he then hired Grande as an intern which eventually turned into working alongside Reagan.
Grande owns her own company in which she travels giving speeches focusing on what Reagan was like as a person and as a boss. She also offers consulting services, sharing her principles of leadership and excellence she gained through experience and her degree from Pepperdine University.