The world first learned late Friday night that former President George Herbert Walker Bush had died at age 94, prompting those who knew him best to share their memories of him.
Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Church in Riverside and Irvine, California, shared the story of Bush’s friend and former secretary of state James A. Baker’s last visit with the president at his home in Houston on Friday morning before he died, as reported by The New York Times.
“When Bush saw Baker he asked: ‘Where are we going, Bake?’”
“We’re going to Heaven,” Baker answered.
“That’s where I want to go,” Bush said, according to the Times.
Born in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1924, Bush was raised in The Episcopal Church and known to be a devout Christian. In 2012, Bush was diagnosed with vascular Parkinsonism, a condition similar to Parkinson’s that left him wheelchair bound.
Bush was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, of 73 years who died on April 17 of this year, and their daughter, Pauline Robinson Bush, who died of leukemia in 1953.
He will be buried on Dec. 6 at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Numerous Christian leaders, politicians and celebrities who knew him have been sharing their condolences and memories of the late president. Here are just a few of those messages shared by pastors, evangelists, and Christian musicians.
“I knew him as one of the most kind and generous men I have known. I met him when he was vice president under President Ronald Reagan. Bush invited me to his office in the Eisenhower Building, May 1988. One month later, my mother died suddenly. Despite our casual acquaintance, the vice president took the time to write me a personal letter of consolation at our loss. That grew into a casual friendship. …
“When he was nominated by his party in 1992, he called for America to be a ‘softer, gentler nation.’ There can be no better words with which to characterize this good man. He genuinely cared about people and led our nation through perilous times,” added Dobson, founder and president of Family Talk and the James Dobson Family Institute.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
“President George H.W. Bush leaves behind a seemingly irreplaceable void in the fabric of America’s political landscape. He was a decorated war hero, venerated statesman, devoted father and loving husband. While all of this is true, it falls well short of paying proper tribute to the total sum of a man whose legacy is quite literally unparalleled in modern American history.
“In a time where Washington can seem more fractured and divisive than ever, President Bush’s life serves as a powerful reminder that we can indeed come together, regardless of our differences, for the common good of all Americans.
“He was that rare politician who possessed such integrity, honor and good humor, that he was embraced and respected by Americans of all political parties and persuasions. In so many ways he represented the very best of us, and we are all blessed by his extraordinary life of public service.
“May we honor Bush’s memory by modeling his grace, dignity and kindness toward our fellow Americans,” added Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
The Oak Ridge Boys
“We started to sing for him in 1982 when he was vice president, and we have been singing for him ever since,” said The Oak Ridge Boys, who are among the late president’s favorite music groups.
“We have performed our songs on Air Force One, in Kennebunkport many times, and at his home in Houston whenever we were in the area. We have performed at the White House and several of his key birthday celebrations. But more than any of that, he was a friend. A good friend, a dear friend, we would even call him and sing to him when he wasn’t feeling well and Barbara swore that we had a healing effect on our FRIEND.
“To say he will be missed is an understatement, so let us just say that we will miss our friend. We have laughed together, shared tears together, fished together, hiked together, shared a lot of lobster together, and sang together. Yes, he fancied himself to be quite the bass singer. We loved George Bush No. 41. Our families loved him. We are better people and, yes, better Americans for having ridden with him. We will sing for him again one day. THIS is ASSURED!”
“When I put on a clean T-shirt, getting ready for our Christmas show in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I didn’t notice that the words on the shirt read, “Bush Protection Secret Service, Houston.” It was one of 31 T-shirts in my closet,” Allen said.
“When we got off stage and saw announcements [about the former president’s death] were all over TV, a huge empty feeling consumed my heart. I remembered how much I had wanted to go fishing with him,” he added.
“And then that happened, many times. He took me out into the ocean about 20 miles ‘where the big blues run,’ and we caught so many fish I quit counting. When a big one broke my line, he handed me his rod and reel and said, ‘Use mine. I will put you on another lure.’
“He was like a daddy figure to me, and he was all about making everyone around him have a good time. The sting of death always hurts, but I have so many memories to make me smile.
“The Oak Ridge Boys have sung ‘Amazing Grace’ for him on Air Force One, in Kennebunkport, at the White House, and over the phone when he was in the hospital. However, singing ‘Amazing Grace’ at his funeral will be the most difficult assignment we will ever have.”
“President and Mrs. Bush were very close friends of my parents and our family through the years. He represented the presidency when politics in our country was more civil. He was a man of character who served our nation during war and led our nation during peace. He was a man of many accomplishments, but one of the greatest was his family. Two sons served as governors and one to follow as president of our nation. Our prayers are with George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and, the entire Bush family,” Graham wrote in a post on Facebook.
He later added: “It was such an honor for us to have former President George H.W. Bush speak at the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2007. I will never forget the tender, heartfelt thoughts he shared about my father — or the way that his personal faith in God was evident through the words he spoke.”
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has shared a series of photos of the Grahams with the late president, which you can see here.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Melissa Barnhart