ronald reagan’s father, john edward reagan, was called “jack” by everyone. Born July 13, 1883, his ancestors had come to America from County Tipperary via England during the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. he was endowed with the “gift of flattery and the charm of a leprechaun”. no one could tell a better story than jack reagan. he was 29 years old when ronald reagan was born and his formal education had been limited to a few years of elementary school. Jack’s parents died before he was six years old from tuberculosis, so he was raised by an elderly aunt who raised him as a proper Irish Catholic. Although he lacked a formal education, Jack was gifted with “street smarts” and was uneasy in his willingness to seek a better life for his family whenever the opportunity presented itself. as a result, the Reagan family moved frequently. God-destined to be a salesman-Jack could have sold anything, but he sold shoes and always wanted to have his own store. jack reagan believed in the rights of the individual and the worker and distrusted the excessive arm of established authority. he firmly believed that all men and women, regardless of color or religion, were created equal and that individuals determine their own destiny, that their own ambition and hard work in life largely determine their destiny. These core beliefs of Jack Reagan were passed down to his son and would later become part of the fundamental fabric of Ronald Reagan’s political outlook. From his father, Ronald Reagan learned the value of hard work, the importance of tolerance, the rewards of ambition, and inherited a fondness for storytelling.
Ronald Reagan’s mother, Nelle Clyde Wilson Reagan, was born on July 18, 1882, the youngest of seven children in a family of Scottish and English descent. She met and fell in love with Jack Reagan in a small farming town on the Illinois prairie. They were married in fulton, illinois in 1904. nelle she taught ronald reagan the value of prayer and how to have dreams and believe they can come true. A petite woman with auburn hair, she had a deep sense of optimism and believed that God had a plan for everyone and that seemingly random twists of fate are part of God’s perfect plan. ella nelle ella faithfully attended sunday services at the church of the disciples of christ throughout her life and she participated in bible readings and prayer meetings there. Apart from her work in the church, she also acted in many plays. Like Ronald Reagan’s father, her mother, Nelle, also had a natural, intuitive intelligence that went well beyond her limited formal education. she had a drive within her not to do something for herself, but to help her children do something for themselves. Nelle Reagan had several brothers and sisters who lived in or near the Midwest. they often visited and helped each other in times of difficulty. Nelle saw the best in people and would help others in need, whether they were family, neighbors, or inmates at the local jail. Nelle’s belief in the good of all and her undying optimism helped Ronald Reagan look beyond the confines of her small town and dream the seemingly impossible. even when setbacks arose, nelle’s encouragement helped ronald reagan see the opportunities that were still there.
john neil reagan, born september 16, 1908, was nicknamed “moon” because he parted in the middle like the popular comic character moon mullins. neil was not happy with the arrival of his brother, ronald, since he wanted a sister. for several days after he was born, neil didn’t want to go see his new baby brother. however, as they grew older, they got into typical childhood troubles, sharing the experiences of brotherhood.