New Castle News

Gary Church

December 16, 2011

Gary Church: Did you know Michael Reagan is my cousin? Now you do

NEW CASTLE — I'm not the type of person that you tell something to and then say, "Don't tell anybody."

When I turned 16, my mother told me the big family secret. She also added, "Don't tell your dad."

I never did. He went to his grave never knowing it.

I have tried ever since to announce to the world what my mother told me.

Back in the 1940s, my mother's sister, Irene, had traveled to the West Coast.

While she was there, she had an affair with a married soldier and became pregnant.

In my mother's family, this was a big no-no.

Irene had no way of supporting a child, so she did the right thing and gave him up for adoption.

Then my mother told me the really juicy part of the story.

She said that Jane Wyman was the one who adopted Irene's son.

At the time, Jane was married to Ronald Reagan. They named Aunt Irene's boy Michael.

Wouldn't you know it, Ronald Reagan got divorced, remarried, and ended up being president of the United States.

I tried everything I knew how to do to get in touch with Michael Reagan, but was never able to do so.

I just wanted to blab to him who his mother was, and that I was his cousin. I thought maybe we could have lunch together at the White House.

Later in life, Irene got married and had a son Barry. Barry never knew his mother's secret until he was in his late 20s.

After he found out, he never tried to contact Mike. He figured someday they would find each other.

It just so happened that Barry was taking a sales lady to the airport, when a commercial came on the radio about Maui.

The sales lady said she had been there because she was in Michael Reagan's wedding. That's where it took place.

Barry then told her what his mother had told him.

She then went back and told Michael about his half-brother. I don't think she mentioned me.

Barry and Michael finally met.

In 1992, Michael did come to New Castle to meet all of his relatives. He stayed at my home.

He is a very entertaining and very likable person, a lot like me. I think I may have more hair.

The thing that I ponder in my mind nowadays, is this.

Cousin Mike and I both give talks.

He is much, much better than I am but, I get paid $50 a speech and he gets paid $20,000 per speech, with expenses.

I sometimes wonder how much he would get paid per speech if Myrtle and Alvin Dingleberry of Deer Lodge, Montana, had adopted him.

Probably the same amount. He just wouldn't have all of those stories about meeting me to tell.


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