By CAROLINE BECK and TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
On Friday, the 41st President of the United States, George W. H. Bush, died at 94 years old.
His long time friend and former Secretary of State, James Baker was at his side and his son, the 43rd President, was on the phone telling him he loved him and Bush saying “I love you too,” marking his last words, according to Peter Baker of the New York Times.
He will be buried next to his wife Barbara, and their three year old daughter, Robin, who died in 1953, in their family plot next to his presidential library at the Texas A & M University.
In the minutes and hours after Bush’s passing, Alabama leaders reacted by lauding the former president in statements social media posts. Others who had known and worked for Bush shared photos, notes, and videos of their interactions over the years.
Gov. Kay Ivey ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff for the month of December and called Bush a “true statesman and public servant.”
President George H.W. Bush was a true statesman and patriot. He was a leader for us all, and his presence will be truly missed. I pray for the Bush Family as they mourn the death of our 41st President. Full statement: https://t.co/lqwYd9p9NI
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) December 1, 2018
Her full statement would go on to say, “The honor he showed our people will live on long after today. He was a leader for us all, and his presence will be truly missed. I pray for the Bush Family as they mourn the death of their father, grandfather, great-grandfather and our 41st President.”
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said Bush “epitomized all that is great about public service.”
President George H.W. Bush epitomized all that is great about public service. A man of means who could have lived a life of comfort and relaxation, he chose instead to open himself to the criticism that politics and difficult decisions often bring. pic.twitter.com/1ABMtR3LSQ
— Speaker McCutcheon (@MacDistrict25) December 1, 2018
” A man of means who could have lived a life of comfort and relaxation, he chose instead to open himself to the criticism that politics and difficult decisions often bring. Our nation is better off for the service that he gallantly offered both in office and as a veteran of World War II. During his presidency, the Berlin Wall fell, the Iron Curtain was finally parted, and our world became more stable and secure under his watch.
Lt. Governor-elect Will Ainsworth said Bush “blazed a trail across U.S. history.”
Kendall, our children, and I join our fellow Alabamians in mourning the passing of President George H.W. Bush. From his service as the youngest Navy pilot in WWII to the various offices he held to his years in the Oval Office, he blazed a trail across the pages of U.S. history. pic.twitter.com/50SQodh4N3
— Will Ainsworth (@willainsworthAL) December 1, 2018
Sen. Richard Shelby is the only current Alabama official to have served during Bush’s time in the White House. Shelby served in the House of Representatives while Bush was Vice President under President Ronald Regan and was already a U.S. Senator when Bush was elected President in 1988.
In a statement mourning Bush’s passing, Shelby referenced his military service in World War II, saying “From a young Naval aviator shot down in WWII to Commander-in-Chief, President Bush led our nation with integrity, honor, and measure. Annette and I join all Americans in mourning his passing. His legacy of humility and devotion will never be forgotten.”
From a young Naval aviator shot down in WWII to Commander-in-Chief, President George H.W. Bush led our nation with integrity, honor, and measure. Annette and I join all Americans in mourning his passing. Read my full statement here: https://t.co/6yflBSwZfW pic.twitter.com/CMPdZoQKem
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) December 1, 2018
Sen. Doug Jones said on Twitter: “He made the most of his 94 years of life and he set an example we should all strive to follow, especially his unwavering dedication to his family and to our country. Louise and I send our heartfelt condolences to teh entire Bush family as they grieve the loss of their beloved patriarch.”
Senator Doug Jones Statement on the Passing of Former President George H.W. Bush: pic.twitter.com/3Tpxh1gINr
— Doug Jones (@SenDougJones) December 1, 2018
Rep. Robert Aderholt called Bush the “epitome of the Greatest Generation.”
I’m very sorry to hear of the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. He was not only our 41st President, but a hero of WWII who was the epitome of the Greatest Generation.
— Rep. Robert Aderholt (@Robert_Aderholt) December 1, 2018
Rep. Martha Roby said Bush was a “remarkable American who served this country honorably. He will be dearly missed. My prayers are with the Bush family during this time.”
Sen. Doug Jones said on Twitter: "I was deeply saddened this morning by the news of Presdient George H.W. Bush's passing. President Bush served the United States of America throughout his life with honor and dignity, both at war and here at home, as a Navy pilot, a diplomat, and a statesman. He made the most of his 94 years of life and he set an example we should all strive to follow, especially his unwavering dedication to his family and to our country. Louise and I send our heartfelt condolences to teh entire Bush family as they grieve the loss of their beloved patriarch."
Rep. Mike Rogers said, “The world lost a great man today who will be remembered for a lifetime of service.”
Sending heartfelt prayers to the Bush family this morning after the passing of President George H.W. Bush. The world lost a great man today who will be remembered for a lifetime of service.
— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogersAL) December 1, 2018
Rep. Terri Sewell said “In the Navy, the CIA, and in the Oval Office, President George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to serving. He was a true patriot who put his country first. Today my prayers are with the whole Bush family.”
In the Navy, the CIA, and in the Oval Office, President George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to serving. He was a true patriot who put his country first. Today my prayers are with the whole Bush family.
— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) December 1, 2018
Rep. Bradley Bryne released a statement saying: “George H.W. Bush was an American hero and icon. Throughout his 94 years, he served our nation in so many ways, and he accomplished so much. Despite all of this, I think the life of George H.W. Bush is best summed up in a very simple phrase: he was a good man.
George H.W. Bush was an American hero who served our nation in WWII, as a Congressman, as UN Ambassador, as CIA Director, as Vice President, and as our 41st President. The nation will be forever grateful for his lifetime of service. Prayers to the entire Bush family.
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) December 1, 2018
Rep. Mo Brooks said on Facebook: “President Bush was deeply devoted to his family, and it showed in their love for him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bush family at this time of grief.”
Rep. Gary Palmer noted Bush’s public service record, saying” he volunteered for U.S. Navy in World War II at age 18 and flew 58 combat missions before he turned 21. He had one of the most expansive backgrounds of anyone who ever served our nation.
More notable memories from Alabama and beyond
Former Sen. Luther Strange shared a photo of his son, Luke, meeting the Bush along with a note from the former president.
Our son, now grown, says it best - “Rest in Peace, Mr. President. I’ll always remember your kindness, your love of country, and your urging on of all of us to serve in causes greater than ourselves. Hail and Farewell.” pic.twitter.com/YhNWciAvRn
— Luther Strange (@lutherstrange) December 1, 2018
President Bush dining on Air Force One with Former Alabama Chief Justice Perry Hooper, Sr, and BassMasters founder Ray Scott. Shared by the Perry Hooper, Jr. and the Hooper family.
“President George H.W. Bush, a man to whom family and friendship was quite simply all, now belongs to the ages,” Canary said. “It was the honor of a lifetime to know him and to be given the privilege to serve on his watch in the White House. A kind and loving individual, he will forever be the most qualified person to occupy the Oval Office. May God bless him and his family as they celebrate a long life that was lived to its fullest.”
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan shared a photo of meeting President and Mrs. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine along with her memories of her interactions over the years in a Facebook post.
“Although I began my journey in the Republican Party in 1976, George H W Bush was the first nominee for President that I attended a RNC Convention for in New Orleans, 1988. It was exhilarating. I had the honor to meet him several times over the years. The last time was in Spring of 2016 at Kennebunkport. After the RNC Chairs were all given the opportunity to say hello and get a picture, I noticed the President was sitting alone. I walked over to him and thanked him for his military service and shared our mutual friendship with Jeremiah Denton. He asked me about Jerry. I assumed he knew Jerry had passed but he didn’t. So I told him. The president just held a stare at me for what seemed a long time and then gently shook his head and smiled. I had no idea I would share that incredible moment with him. I also told him Jerry talked about their friendship and how they shared good times together. President Bush smiled and said that he loved Jerry. A moment with a true point of light I will never forget.”
Veteran Alabama politico David Azbell shared his favorite Bush campaign button from his famous collection of political memorabilia as well as some memories on Facebook.
Do you have special memories or photos of President George H.W. Bush? Please send them to Caroline@ALDailyNews.com or Todd@ALDailyNews.com so we can include them.