UPDATED 02/04/11 1:04 p.m.
TAMPICO, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — This coming Sunday would be Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, and Illinoisans are celebrating the only president so far who was born in the state.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, a celebration is set for Friday evening at the Deer Grove Golf Course near the town of Tampico, where Reagan was born. The festivities will include a gala, and a screening of Newt Gingrich’s documentary, “Reagan’s life, Rendezvous with Destiny,” at Sterling High School’s Centennial Auditorium.
Centennial commission chairman Rep. Jerry Mitchell says Gingrich will also talk about the values the 40th president picked up in the northern and central Illinois communities where he grew up.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) says Reagan should be remembered as a hero.
“Ronald Reagan took this country from a situation of malaise; I mean, we had high, double-digit inflation, interest rates were 16, 17 percent, we had hostages in Iran, and we had no self-respect,” Hastert said.
The nation is also celebrating Reagan’s life this week. Tributes will be shown at the Super Bowl in Dallas, and the Beach Boys will hold a concert in California. U.S. Senators will pay tribute in floor speeches in Washington, and Sarah Palin will address a banquet on Friday night in Reagan’s honor in Santa Barbara, near his beloved ranch.
Thursday saw the former president’s son, Ron Reagan attend a signing of his book, My Father at 100, in the gift shop next to Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon.
Reagan was born Feb. 6, 1911, in tiny Tampico, Ill., and attended Eureka College roughly 100 miles away. He worked in Iowa as a radio broadcaster before relocating to Los Angeles, where he began a career in acting. A one-time Democrat, he changed his registration in 1962.
Reagan also lived briefly in Chicago. As a 4-year-old boy, he resided with his family in a three-flat at 832 E. 57th St. on the western edge of the Hyde Park neighborhood. He also announced his engagement to first wife Jane Wyman at the Chicago Theatre before their wedding in 1940.
Reagan died in 2004.