It’s impossible to miss Ronald Reagan’s mark on Dixon, but at First Christian Church it’s his mother who people can’t stop talking about.
“Nelle Reagan, Ron’s mother, was a vital member of this church back in the day,” said Dale Biggs, the board chairman at First Christian Church.
“My mother carried me in the door the day I was born and I’ve been here ever since and I’m 74 years old,” he said.
The Reagans moved away by the time Biggs was born, but his mother was close friends with Nelle who taught Sunday school.
“Nelle Reagan was a woman who was the epitome of what we consider in this church a Christian person,” Biggs said. “She was always doing something for someone else. ”
And although the Reagans left in 1941, Nelle was known to make return visits.
“I remember Mrs. Reagan coming back to the church here for services in the summertime as a young boy and I’d always ask my mother, ‘Why is that lady sitting in the front row?’ And she would say, ‘Dale, that’s Mrs. Reagan. She can’t hear so she always sits up in the front row.'”
Of course, the former president does have a special place in their congregation. A room in the church is dedicated to preserving his time there.
“His presidential years were an attraction and a gift to the members of this church because they all knew Ronald when he was little and then he became president,” Biggs said. “That’s just quite an honor for all of us.”