By PERRY HOOPER, JR.
It has been gratifying to see President George H.W. Bush finally receive the recognition he deserves.
He was one of the finest men to serve as president and among America’s most consequential chief executives. His life was filled with accomplishments that few can claim. Here are some highlights.
As one of the youngest Navy aviators at age 18, President Bush flew over 50 combat sorties in the South Pacific. He was the captain of the Yale baseball team and led the Bulldogs to the College World Series in 1947 and 1948 while finishing college in just 2 years.
He built an oil company from scratch and was a millionaire by age 40. He was GOP National Chairman rebuilding a party wracked by Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon. He was the first sitting Vice President to be elected president in 152 years. But one of his greatest accomplishment was his ability to building deep enduring friendships, including many right here in Montgomery.
President Bush gave credit to Bassmaster founder Ray Scott for nurturing his inherit love of fishing. Although he could fish anywhere in the world, he made regular trips to Ray Scotts’ Pintlala fishing ponds citing it was one of his favorite places to catch a big bass. Crossing party lines President Bush was a golfing buddy with Wallace confidant Charlie Snider.
Former Mayor Emory Folmar became a friend when he was Alabama Republican State Chairman and he worked with President Bush to change a Democrat controlled South into a Republican stronghold.
President Bush was taken to his final resting place in a rail car built exclusively for him by Progress Rail of Albertville.
My family and the Bush family have been friends for over 3 decades. My father first became friends with the president when he served as Republican National Committeeman for Alabama and President Bush was GOP National Chairman Over the years they talked issues, they cut up some, but for the most part, they talked about what they needed to do to make the country even better than it is.
My mother loved Barbara Bush and my mother and father spent several weekends in D.C. visiting with the president and the first lady. One of my proudest moments of my life was when, as a young legislator, President Bush personally presented me with an award for my work in passing the volunteerism act in the Alabama legislature that was inline with his 1000 Points of Light Initiative.
He was the most decent of men, instantly and instinctively offering strangers kindness and respect. A great role model of what a father and grandfather should be, He harbored no resentments, no grievances as witnessed by his friendship with Bill Clinton.
President George HW Bush will be sorely missed,