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Reagan as President Giving Thanks for Painting of a Park Where He Was a Lifeguard
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I’ve been living with memories since it arrived.... There are no words to properly express my gratitude and my pleasure at having that lovely painting of a spot so dear to my heart.

RONALD REAGAN. Typed Letter Signed “Dutch,” to Bill and Jean Thompson, March 7, 1988, Washington, D.C.. 1 p., 7 x 10½ in. On White House stationery with embossed presidential seal.

Inventory #26025       Price: $1,250

Complete Transcript



                                                                        March 7, 1988

Dear Jean and Bill:

What a surprise and what a trip down memory lane. Yes, the painting is the view I had from that very spot, and I’ve been living with memories since it arrived. Thank you both. There are no words to properly express my gratitude and my pleasure at having that lovely painting of a spot so dear to my heart. In just a few weeks we’ll be handcarrying it to the ranch. I’ll also drop a line to Fran Swarbrick.

Let us know when you’ll be in Washington. I hope we are on hand. I say that because there are a few things such as the Moscow summit pending with no exact dates set as yet. If we’re here, you can bet you’ll be in the Oval Office.

Again, a heartfelt thank you for “Lowell Park.” Nancy joins me in every good wish and warm regard.




Mr. and Mrs. Bill Thompson

517 Brinton Avenue

Dixon, Illinois  61021

Historical Background

The Moscow Summit mentioned in this letter was the fourth of five groundbreaking summits held between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party. It took place between May 29 and June 3, 1988, at the Kremlin. During the conference, the two world leaders continued their ongoing discussion of nuclear arms control, humanitarian issues, and international politics. One of the specific talking points in 1988 was the anticipated Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. This summit at Moscow had followed summits at Geneva (1985), Reykjavik (1986), and Washington (1987), and preceded the summit at Malta (1989).

In the winter of 1988, the Thompsons presented President Reagan with a painting of Lowell Park. Reagan had worked as a life guard at this park along the Rock River near his hometown between ages 16-23. President Reagan promised that the artwork would soon be exhibited at the “ranch,” referring to the 688-acre farm near Santa Barbara, California purchased in 1974. Rancho del Cielo was known as the “Western White House.” Gorbachev was just one of many VIPs to visit there; others included Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

William C. “Bill” Thompson (1917-2005) was born in Dixon, Illinois, and was a businessman and community leader. In August 1942, he married Jean E. Thompson (1920-1997) of Iowa, and they had two children. He was a long-time friend of President Ronald Reagan, and they visited the president in the Oval Office in 1984. They were actively involved in the Ronald Reagan Home Restoration and Preservation Association, a non-profit organization established in 1980 to restore Ronald Reagan’s childhood home in Dixon. On September 29, 1983, President Reagan wrote in his White House diary: “Bill & Jean Thompson of Dixon came by. They are really the sparkplugs behind the renovation of my boyhood home.”

Frances “Fran” Pervier Swarbrick (1922-2018) was a Dixon artist who painted “Looking Upriver from Lowell Park,” a view of Ronald Reagan at Lowell Park, which now hangs in the Reagan Presidential Library in California. Born in Minnesota, she attended an art school in Des Moines, Iowa, the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and Carthage College. She married William Henry Swarbrick (1920-2012) in 1944, and he became a Lutheran minister. She worked a newspaper report and a courtroom artist. She became a noted regional artist, poet, and author.

Condition: Wear including light paper folds and some minor foxing, else near fine.

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