Maureen Reagan died this week after a long battle with cancer. Reagan worked for decades on women’s issues, and as far back as 1979 was working alongside women like Mary Grefe of Des Moines. They traveled together, talked together, and became close friends. They got to know each other’s families, and Grefe says when it became evident she’d lose her battle with cancer, Maureen Reagan phoned her two weeks ago to say goodbye. Reagan was 60 and died Wednesday of complications from melanoma. Grefe says they worked together for women’s rights more than two decades ago, and she describes Reagan as “brilliant.” Grefe was a delegate to the Conference on Women in Nairobi. She says she watched Reagan read a briefing book once and knew everything that was inside. The daughter of former president Ronald Reagan worked with friends from Iowa on women’s causes including two efforts to pass an equal-rights amendment, and Mary Grefe of Des Moines remembers a planned lobbying effort in 1988.Maureen flew to Des Moines on Halloween and the two dined at a restaurant where the waitress wore a cow costume. Grefe says it became a running joke and earlier this year she and Maureen Reagan were still exchanging cards and joke gifts with a black-and-white Iowa cow theme. They’ve stayed in touch over the years. In fact, Reagan phoned two weeks ago to say goodbye, asked Grefe to take care of her husband and daughter. Maureen Reagan was 60 years old. The oldest daughter of former president Ronald Reagan had battled cancer for five years.
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