JACKSON, Miss. — Larry Speakes, who spent six years as acting press secretary for President Reagan, died Friday in his native Mississippi. He was 74.

Speakes died at home in Cleveland, Miss., where he had lived the past several years, said Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. Brown said Speakes had Alzheimer’s disease.

Speakes became Reagan’s acting spokesman after Press Secretary James Brady was wounded during an assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981.

Weeks after leaving his White House job in 1987, Speakes said during a speech at East Texas State University that he often thought about the day Reagan, Brady and two others were wounded when John Hinckley Jr. opened fire.

“Shortly before the president left that day to go to the Hilton Hotel to make a speech, I said to Jim, ‘Do you want to go with the president, or would you like me to go?’ And he said, `I believe I’ll go,”’ Speakes said. “And had it not been in that one split second, I would have been exactly where Jim Brady was at that moment an hour or so later. … It’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about that.”

After leaving the White House, Speakes worked for Merrill Lynch in New York. He left the Merrill Lynch job after he wrote in his memoir, “Speaking Out,” that he had fabricated quotes for Reagan while working for him.

He returned to Washington in 1988 and worked in public relations for Northern Telecom and the U.S. Postal Service, retiring in 2008.

He is survived by a daughter, two sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.