Former spokesman to U.S. President Ronald Reagan dies at 74

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Former White House Press Secretaries (L-R): Mike McCurry, (President Clinton), Pierre Salinger, (President Kennedy), Jerald terHorst, (President Ford) and Larry Speakes, (President Reagan) stand in the White House Briefing Room moments before the start of a ceremony officially re-naming the room after former White House Press Secretary James Brady, (President Reagan) in Washington, DC in this February 11, 2000 file photo. Larry Speakes, who served as press secretary to then-President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1987, died on January 10, 2014 at age 74 in his native Mississippi, a funeral home owner said. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files
Former White House Press Secretaries (L-R): Mike McCurry, (President Clinton), Pierre Salinger, (President Kennedy), Jerald terHorst, (President Ford) and Larry Speakes, (President Reagan) stand in the White House Briefing Room moments before the start of a ceremony officially re-naming the room after former White House Press Secretary James Brady, (President Reagan) in Washington, DC in this February 11, 2000 file photo. Larry Speakes, who served as press secretary to then-President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1987, died on January 10, 2014 at age 74 in his native Mississippi, a funeral home owner said. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

(Reuters) – Larry Speakes, who served as spokesman for U.S. President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1987, died on Friday at age 74 in his native Mississippi, a funeral home owner said.

Speakes, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died in his sleep at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, said Kenny Williams, owner of the Cleveland Funeral Home.

In 1981, Speakes joined the Reagan administration as deputy press secretary after previously serving as vice president of public relations firm Hill and Knowlton.

He took over from James Brady as the president’s acting press secretary after Brady was wounded later that year in an assassination attempt against Reagan. He held the position until 1987.

Speakes was buried on Friday at North Cleveland Cemetery, Williams said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)

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