By Lily Rothman
March 6, 2016

It was 1985 when Nancy Reagan—the former First Lady who died at 94 on Sunday—was first featured on the cover of TIME. It had been decades since she first showed up in the magazine’s pages, in a 1966 publisher’s note that mentioned her making tuna salad for Ronald Reagan and Los Angeles Bureau Chief Marshall Berges, and a full presidential term since she had assumed the job of what the cover called “White House co-star.”

By that point she was, noted White House Correspondent Laurence I. Barrett, more confident in her role than she had once been. Over the course of her first term in the White House, she had become more and more of a political asset to her husband—and, said a presidential aide, “no longer just Ronald Reagan’s wife.” She spoke to the public more often, influenced her husband in private more and invested more of herself in the anti-drug efforts about which she was so passionate.

And, finally, after having done the job once, she was ready to offer her take on the nebulous and often tricky role of the First Lady, a position of great responsibility but little definition. Here’s what she told TIME then:

Read the full 1985 cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Nancy Reagan’s Growing Role

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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