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Nancy Reagan honored at funeral with memories, laughter and tears

The former first lady's loved ones gathered Friday in Simi Valley, California, to share remembrances of her strength and unfailing dedication to her husband.

Nancy Reagan's family, friends and admirers bid farewell to the former first lady Simi Valley, California, Friday — honoring her by sharing memories largely focused on her strength and her unfailing dedication to her husband.

"She did love a party, and she would want this to be a party," Reagan's son, Ron Reagan, told those gathered, including first lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush and a vast array of mourners from Hollywood, Washington and beyond.

"This is a celebration," Reagan said.

And it was.

Reagan's funeral service — held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library overlooking a gray and rainy Simi Valley — was not void of tears, but hearty laughter was more plentiful.

Those who spoke of Reagan, including her daughter, Patti Davis, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, ABC News' Dianne Sawyer and NBC News' Tom Brokaw, told anecdotes about a woman full of spunk, class and tenacity.

But most notably, those who spoke of Reagan, could not memorialize the late former first lady without properly acknowledging the overwhelming love she had for her husband who, by all indications, loved her just as much.

"Their love for each other was the only sustenance they needed," said Davis, who called her parents "two halves of a circle."

She shared that her mother was adamant, when Reagan was ill, about being next to her husband when he died. Davis said she comforted her mother by telling her "it was in God's hands."

But Nancy Reagan was next to her "Ronnie" when he died, Davis said, because "even God might not have the guts to argue with Nancy Reagan."

Ronald Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Nancy Reagan died Sunday. She was 94.

Mulroney, who read aloud one of the many love letters Reagan wrote his wife, said "she really always was on his mind."

Sawyer said she remembers seeing a quote from one of Reagan's famous letters to his beloved in their home.

"It said something like, 'if you must leave, could you just take me with you,'" Sawyer recounted. "And I think about that again today."

Others relayed that Ronald Reagan would likely not have become president, or even governor of California, without his wife.

"She was absolutely, without a doubt, his closest adviser," said Reagan's one-time Chief of Staff James Baker.

Ron Reagan, who began his eulogy with a brief touch of his mother's casket and ended it with tears welling behind his glasses, said that as a pair, his parents were "more than the sum of their parts."

"Individually, they may have gone far, but together they could and did go anywhere," he said.

Nancy Reagan will be laid to rest beside Ronald Reagan on a hillside at the library overlooking the ocean.

"And here they'll stay," Ron Reagan said. "As they always wished it to be — resting in each others arms, only in each others arms, until the end of time."

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