“I was immediately in awe of this place,” she said, explaining how she started working as a clerk and became assistant manager of the main gift shop and manager of the satellite store in the Air Force One Pavilion. The venue’s crown jewel opened just more than a year ago and documents Reagan’s travels as president, when he tried to use charm and one-on-one diplomacy to win over world leaders. Both Mente and Wright have seen national and world leaders arrive to pay tribute to Reagan. They’ve seen ordinary citizens from former communist countries who sometimes get teary-eyed as they recognize Reagan’s help in ending the Cold War. “When we play DVDs of him in the museum store, I still get emotional,” Mente said. “He had tremendous charisma. It was great to be in his presence and hear him talk about his life experiences. “When he would come to the library, some people would just cry.” Wright has a wall in her home devoted to photographs of Reagan and his wife, Nancy, posed with members of her family. “They are very special and all personally signed,” she said. “They are the prized possessions in my house.” The library houses more than 55 million pages of gubernatorial, presidential and personal papers and more than 100,000 gifts and artifacts chronicling the lives of the Reagans. The museum is filled with exhibits that follow Reagan’s life – from his childhood in Illinois through his career in radio, television and films to his election as governor of California and president of the United States. The museum store where Mente and Wright work is a key part of the overall experience for many visitors who want to take home examples of what they’ve seen. And for the museum store duo, their workplace has provided them with plenty of memories over 15 years. Even after his death, Reagan’s presence can still be felt at the library and museum “everywhere you walk,” Wright said. “This will be a special place forever.” [email protected] (805) 583-7602 IF YOU GO The Reagan Presidential Library, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, will celebrate its 15th anniversary, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Festivities will include music, refreshments, children s activities and a photo exhibit. For more information, call (800) 410-8352 or see www.reaganlibrary.com. FACTS, FIGURES Opened Nov. 4, 1991, at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley. Has hosted more than 3.6 million visitors. This year, it set an attendance record of 505,398. Contains more than 50 million pages of presidential papers, half a million feet of motion-picture film, 20,500 videotapes, 25,500 audio recordings and nearly 1.5 million photos. Source: Reagan Library.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SIMI VALLEY – When Debbie Wright mentioned to her airplane seatmate that she was from Simi Valley, he asked whether she’d ever visited the Reagan Presidential Library, where he’d bought gifts online from the museum store. Wright had to laugh. She’s been working there almost since the library opened – exactly 15 years ago today. “This library has definitely put us on the map,” she said, noting that her fellow traveler immediately recognized her hometown. “We used to have to explain where Simi Valley was.” More than 3.6 million people from all over the world have visited since the library opened Nov. 4, 1991, on a windy hillside overlooking Simi Valley. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’This year’s attendance set a record of 505,398, topping the attendance of 500,000 in 2004, the year Reagan died. And Wright and Carolyn Mente have been there the whole time. Mente, who manages the museum store, got to see Reagan, then-President George H.W. Bush and three other former presidents dedicate the library on opening day. She is still thrilled by the place where she works, driving to her job every day from Porter Ranch along the Ronald Reagan Freeway. “It’s a beautiful drive, and the destination’s the best part,” she said. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure every day.” Wright first came to the library for the opening and came back on Veterans Day, when she met Mente and applied for a job.