Gulfport Man Reflects On His Time With President Reagan

Among the millions of people around the world saddened by the news of President Ronald Reagan's death is John Roberts of Gulfport. Roberts had a chance to talk with Mr. Reagan at three different stages of the former president's life - when he was a movie star, an aspiring politician, and president.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan came to Gulfport as part of his re-election bid. John Roberts helped set up for the event. As he looked into the sea of faces, Roberts knew something special was happening.

"Anybody's that been near him or heard him speak, you could just sense that he was the real article."

Roberts had a sign put up in Jones Park to commemorate the Presidential visit, but his fond memories of the former president actually date back to 1958 when as a young film star and motivational speaker for General Electric. Roberts worked for G.E. back then.

"He sat in my office with his feet up in the desk," said Roberts. "Well in 1958, he was a movie star. I often look back and say, 'here's a guy becomes president and who moved me out of my seat.'"

The next meeting between Reagan and Roberts happened 20 years later in 1978, just days before Reagan announced he would run for president. After Reagan was elected, Roberts sent him a photograph of the two men together which President Reagan signed and mailed back.

"He remembered us and all so. It is very touching very important."

Roberts says as a man Reagan was humble and simple and as a president he was a great leader.

"Because he's one of the greatest presidents I think we've ever had and we've had a lot of good ones."

John Roberts says taking part in the 1984 presidential visit was a family affair. His daughter, Tammy, sang the national anthem and "God Bless America" during Mr. Reagan's visit to Jones Park.