Ex Reagan press secretary Speakes dies

Larry Speakes, the former press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, has died at 74.

Speakes, who spent six years as the public face of the Reagan Administration and worked for two other presidents, died in his home in Cleveland, Miss., according to the Associated Press.

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Kenny Williams of the Cleveland Funeral Home told the AP that Speakes died Friday and was buried that day in a private service at a local cemetery. He died in his sleep, according to Williams.

He also said that Speakes suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. In a statement to the AP, former first lady Nancy Reagan expressed her sympathies.

"I was saddened to learn about Larry, who served Ronnie with great loyalty in one of the toughest jobs in the White House," the statement read. "He stepped up in very difficult circumstances and was an articulate and respected spokesman day in and day out, including some very historically significant moments. It is a source of special sadness to know he suffered from Alzheimer's disease."

Reagan also suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Speakes began his work in Washington as a press secretary for former Sen. James Eastland (D-Miss.), primarily assisting in the senator’s work as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

He joined the White House in 1974, serving as a staff assistant and press secretary to President Richard Nixon’s special counsel during the Watergate scandal. He served as assistant press secretary under President Gerald Ford also.

After a stint in the private sector, Speakes eventually took the title of acting press secretary under Reagan. He stepped into the role after the existing press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the failed assassination attempt against Reagan in 1981 and was unable to continue his duties.