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Richard Wirthlin, Reagan adviser, dies at 80

Published March 16, 2011 10:33 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Richard Wirthlin, the pollster and political strategist who helped engineer President Ronald Reagan's two election campaigns, died Wednesday in his Salt Lake City home. He was 80.

Wirthlin died of natural causes, his family said in an e-mailed statement.

An aide to Reagan for more than 20 years, Wirthlin served as chief strategist on Reagan's 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns. He also acted as a political adviser and pollster to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He later co-founded market research firm Wirthlin Worldwide, which was sold to Harris Interactive in 2004.

"Dick was a great man, a great friend and an invaluable counselor to President Reagan," former Attorney General Edwin Meese said in the statement.

Wirthlin, born in Salt Lake City, is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jeralie Mae Chandler, 8 children, 27 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.