George H. W. Bush, 94, died late last night at his winter home in Houston, Texas. He was the 41st President of the United States and father of President George W. Bush. He died seven months following the death of his wife, Barbara, back in April.
The two major streets of his family’s summer home, Kennebunkport, were packed all day today. That’s because the 37th annual “Prelude” – a week long celebration of the upcoming Christmas holiday – was taking place much as it has for the past 36 years, despite the passing of its favorite son.
Bonnie Clement, owner of H. B. Provisions was close to the Bush family and visited them many times at Walker’s Point as well as in Houston. She also attended the christening of a ship with the family in Virginia. The last time she saw President Bush was early this past summer. She is going to the state funeral in Washington, D.C. next week.
Bonnie said that her store had been inundated with members of the press since early morning. As this blogger was talking to her, she took a second phone call of the day from a reporter with “The New York Times.” The Bushes were frequent customers of her store. “Our friendship grew out of their frequent visits here,” she said. Bonnie grew up in Essex, Connecticut, a well-to-do community not far from the likewise wealthy, coastal town of Greenwich, that Mrs. Bush called home.
“I heard of his passing just like you did,” Bonnie said. “Through news reports. It’s the end of an era. Very sad.” (See below right photo of Bonnie).
On one wall of her store is a gallery of fifty (50) photographs taken over the years of her with various members of the Bush family, including Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, and Laura.
Others reported that the Bushes were often seen walking around town not expecting any special treatment. Ryan Starita said that as a grammar school student, he used to see them when they arrived on the helicopter pad. “He was a big part of the town.”
“The time Dad spends in Kennebunkport are his happiest times – not the years at the White House, or in China, or at the CIA, as much as those places and institutions meant to him. Walker’s Point is where his heart is, and where he can do all the things that are most important to him….” wrote Dora Bush Koch in the booklet – An “Anchor to Windward.” (See photo above left).
Roxanne Phillips who summers in Kennebunkport but returned for “Prelude” said of the Bushes: “They were real people with morals. Not like what we have today in the White House.”
Note: For photographs of the flag at Walker’s Point at half mast and an impromptu memorial of flowers and flags, please see the previous post herein. Some of the photographs taken by this blogger earlier today did not turnout, including one of Charlie Starita. He’s the 2 year old son of Ryan quoted above.