I want to share two quick stories I have about men named Bush.
The first one is about George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States who died Friday at age 94.
President Bush went to Amarillo in 2007 to speak to the community about leadership. They had a reception and lunch at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts. Because I worked as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News at the time, I got invited. We had lunch, then we got to stand in a long line.
At the head of that line was President Bush. He was meeting and greeting those who got to stand in that line. It was your classic “grip and grin” session.
My time came. I walked up to Bush and said simply as I extended my hand, “I just want to thank you, Mr. President, for your long and distinguished service to this country.” He bowed his head slightly as he said, “Thank you for that, sir.” We exchanged a couple more thoughts, then we turned to face the photographer who took our picture.
We were gripping and grinning at the camera. I cherish that picture to this day. Why? I had this feeling in the moment that the former president actually appreciated the expression of thanks from a complete stranger — me. Believe this: I offered it sincerely and with maximum gratitude.
A dozen years earlier, in 1995, I had the pleasure of meeting the newly elected governor of Texas, George W. Bush. I flew from Amarillo to Austin to meet with Gov. Bush in his Capitol Building office.
I arrived at the Capitol and found my way to the governor’s office. I was shown the way to the governor’s receiving room just outside the actual office. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and I told him that one of my sons had expressed many times his admiration for the governor’s father, the former president.
Gov. Bush nodded and said, “Your son has picked a wonderful man to admire.”
I was told I would get 30 minutes with the governor. I interviewed him on the record for about an hour plus 20 minutes.
The younger Bush clearly adored his father, whose pride in his son was well-known.
Now, to give you an idea of how effective a politician George W. Bush had become, there’s this addendum:
Gov. Bush was running for re-election in 1998. He came to Amarillo to be interviewed by the Globe-News editorial board. He walked briskly into our conference room, pointed at me and said in a loud voice, “There’s a good man. So, tell me, how’s your son?”
“W” learned well from Bush 41.