Honor the Illinois Roots of President Ronald Reagan

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Ronald Wilson Reagan, born 100 years ago in northwestern Illinois, spent his formative years here living, working, studying and developing into the man that would rise to the White House, lead America through treacherous times and firmly apply his mark on history.

On Feb. 4, in celebration of President Reagan’s 100th birthday, local events will honor Reagan’s life, legacy and roots in Illinois.

An evening Centennial Gala at the Deer Valley Golf Club in Deer Grove will feature a keynote address from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Other dignitaries including former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford also are planning to attend the Official Illinois Celebration.

Gingrich, who also is a widely published author and scholar of American history, will present the Illinois premiere screening of his Reagan documentary, “Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny,” at the Sterling High School Auditorium in Sterling earlier in the day. Following the premiere, Gingrich and his wife Callista will offer remarks and participate in a book signing.

The Illinois Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission, a bipartisan group formed by the Illinois House of Representatives, is coordinating the local events in conjunction with the Tampico Area Historical Society. Related events are occurring throughout the entire year. Visit for a full calendar and more information.

“Reagan was the right president at the right time for this country,” Hastert said. “His legacy still resonates today and Illinois is proud to call him one of her own.”

President Reagan was a true Illinoisan. Born in Tampico, his father took jobs in places all over the state, including Chicago where he worked a stint selling shoes at Marshall Field’s when Reagan was only two years old. The

family then trekked southwest to Galesburg, then north to Dixon, the town that the future president would later refer to in his autobiography as the place where “I really found myself.”

Even after young Reagan went off to college, the future President continued to travel through communities across the state. Piling into a 1922 Buick, Reagan, his brothers and three of his buddies from Eureka College would make frequent trips to places like Princeton, Henry, Walnut, Chillicothe, Fulton, Peoria Heights, Washington and the village of Ohio.

During his address, Gingrich will talk about how these experiences and how the state of Illinois shaped the man and the President that Reagan would become. Gingrich’s documentary highlights how Reagan’s values are just as

relevant today.

“Reagan’s greatest achievement was turning around America, rebuilding our economy and making us proud to be Americans again,” Gingrich said.

The Illinois Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission has been charged with the task of not only commemorating Reagan’s 100th birthday, but also stimulating and encouraging the creation and growth of programs about Ronald


Headed by state Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Sterling), the Commission also includes Ann Lewis of Dixon, the Director of the Reagan Birthplace Joan Johnson, the President of Eureka College J. David Arnold, state Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley), state Rep. Keith Sommer (R-Morton), state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and Chairman of the Whiteside County Republican Central Committee Robbin Blackert.

The Commission also exists to highlight and publicize the institutions in the state that are related to Ronald Reagan’s life. The Commission is promoting events across Illinois and throughout 2011.

All proceeds from the Official Illinois Celebration on Feb. 4 will benefit the Tampico Area Historical Society, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization responsible for preserving Ronald Reagan’s birthplace and promoting

Ronald Reagan’s legacy.

Schedule of Official Illinois Events for Friday, February 4, 2011

3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

“Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny” Film Screening

with U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Sterling High School Auditorium

1608 4th Avenue, Sterling, Illinois

Showtime begins at 4 p.m., Tickets range $10-$30*

6:30 - 9 p.m.

Official Illinois Centennial Gala with Special Guest Speaker Newt Gingrich

Deer Valley Golf Club

3298 Hoover Road, Deer Grove, Illinois

Cocktails at 6:30 p.m., Dinner at 7:30 p.m.

Reservations begin at $250*

* To purchase advanced tickets or for more information visit or

call (630) 752-9661.