On President Reagan’s birthday, his alma mater got the gift. Ronald Reagan is the only U.S. president born in Illinois. He and his brother, Neil, are both graduates of Eureka College in central Illinois. The college announced Thursday, 103 years after the president's birth, that Neil Reagan and his wife bequeathed $1 million to the college's endowment.
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Neil Reagan was the big brother but followed Ronald Reagan to college by one year. His career was in advertising and broadcasting. He died in 1996, his wife, Bess, in 2010. It’s just now that the estate is settling to the point at which Eureka can receive and announce the gift, says John Morris, director of the Ronald W. Reagan Society, the college's fund-raising arm.
“We are the smallest alma mater of a president of the United States in American history,” Morris says. “We’ve got a story to tell and a legacy to uphold and a museum and a collection of objects and a peace garden.”
Morris says Eureka is also in receipt of more than 100 items of Reagan memorabilia, including photos, awards and letters, from Neil and Bess Reagan.