Be­fore oil fields of Texas and Oval Of­fice, Bush was a ‘man of Green­wich’

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Stephen Singer [email protected]

He was born in Mas­sachusetts and es­tab­lished his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in Texas, but be­tween the Bay State and oil fields of Mid­land, Ge­orge H.W. Bush was raised in the tony Con­necti­cut town of Green­wich.

Bush, the 41st pres­i­dent of the United States, died late Fri­day night at his home in Houston. He was 94.

He was born in Mil­ton, Mass., and rep­re­sented a Texas dis­trict in the U.S. House from 1967 to 1971. Bush, who moved to Mid­land, Texas, in the 1950s to make a ca­reer in the oil field sup­ply busi­ness, lost two bids for the U.S. Se­nate from Texas in 1964 and 1970.

He grew up in Green­wich, the son of U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush, who served from 1952 to

1963. And he met his fu­ture wife, Bar­bara Pierce, at a Christ­mas party at Round Hill Coun­try Club in Green­wich in 1941. They mar­ried four years later. Mrs. Bush died in April at age 92. “I’ve al­ways thought of him as a man of Green­wich,” said Ed­ward Dadakis, a for­mer chair­man of the Green­wich Repub­li­can Party and now a mem­ber of the state GOP cen­tral com­mit­tee. “When he came to town, so many peo­ple knew him. They knew his fa­ther.”

Dadakis re­called a GOP elec­tion year rally in 1986 at­tended by Bush, then vice pres­i­dent. The lo­cal news­pa­per, the Green­wich Time, led its news story by re­port­ing Bush’s “tri­umphant re­turn to his home town.”

“I was al­ways struck by that line,” he said. “It was al­ways his home town.”

For­mer Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., said Bush was a model of old-fash­ioned courtesy.

“I must have five or six per­sonal notes from him, be­cause that’s the way he was brought up,” he said. “He was not part of a tribe. Now, too many of our lead­ers and rank-and-file lead­ers see them­selves as part of a tribe.”

Deb­bie Walker Sta­ple­ton, a first cousin of the 41st pres­i­dent and a Green­wich res­i­dent, said Bush likely was in­flu­enced by his fa­ther’s suc­cess in reach­ing the U.S. Se­nate.

“He didn’t know then he’d go into pol­i­tics. He saw his fa­ther and that was an ex­am­ple,” she said.

Leav­ing Con­necti­cut brought new re­wards to the young Ge­orge Bush. His ser­vice in World War II as a navy avi­a­tor while still a teenager “cer­tainly gave him con­fi­dence,” Sta­ple­ton said.

And Bush set a new course for him­self by mov­ing to Mid­land af­ter grad­u­at­ing Yale Univer­sity, she said.

“He de­cided to do some­thing very dif­fer­ent than the in­vest­ment busi­ness,” Sta­ple­ton said. “He wanted to start down on his own. That spirit of ad­ven­ture, of risk-tak­ing ended up be­ing in­stru­men­tal in how he lived his life.”

Green­wich First Se­lect­man Peter Te­sei, prais­ing Bush for his “gen­uine and dig­ni­fied char­ac­ter,” cited Bush’s lo­cal roots.

“Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush was a true home­town boy that, re­gard­less of his position in the global sphere of po­lit­i­cal power, he re­mained for­ever tied to his fam­ily roots here in Green­wich.”

Gov.-elect Ned La­mont, a for­mer Green­wich se­lect­man, said that re­gard­less of Bush’s po­lit­i­cal base in Texas, he con­sid­ers Bush a pres­i­dent from Con­necti­cut.

“New York boasts seven pres­i­dents, Ohio five and Con­necti­cut boasts Ge­orge Bush,” he said in a state­ment.

“He grew up on Grove Lane in Green­wich, where his dad was mod­er­a­tor of the Green­wich Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Town Meet­ing and was later U.S. se­na­tor,” said La­mont, a Demo­crat. “Ge­orge H.W. Bush was not so shy about his Con­necti­cut roots and we will miss our na­tive son, who was not only a true Nut­meg­ger but an un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated pres­i­dent.”

Shays, who rep­re­sented Fair­field County, said the two Bushes — fa­ther and son — “al­ways wanted to be Tex­ans, but Ge­orge Bush Sr. was raised in New Eng­land and was New Eng­land born and bred.”

“He did not al­ways want to ad­mit that be­cause he was run­ning in a con­ser­va­tive world,” he said.

The Prescott Bush Din­ner, an an­nual fundraiser for the Con­necti­cut Republi- can Party, is “in honor of his fam­ily, in honor of his fa­ther, in honor of him,” Shays said.

In ad­di­tion to his Green­wich up­bring­ing, Bush va­ca­tioned at his fam­ily’s home in the coastal Maine town of Ken­neb­unkport, fur­ther deep­en­ing his New Eng­land roots, he said.

Yale Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Peter Salovey praised Bush, who grad­u­ated from the Ivy League school in 1948, as a “loyal friend.”

“One of the great first base­men and base­ball cap­tains in Yale’s his­tory, Pres­i­dent Bush re­mained an avid ‘Bull­dog,’ a fan of Yale ath­let­ics and an es­pe­cially ar­dent cham­pion of our stu­dent-vet­er­ans,” he said.

For­mer U.S. Rep. Nancy John­son said that where Bush was from was never in doubt. “He was def­i­nitely a Con­necti­cut man,” she said.

His rep­u­ta­tion as a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can, John­son said, bal­anced the 1980 ticket headed by Ron­ald Rea­gan, a Cold War hawk and critic of an ex­pan­sive fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

“The fact he picked him as vice pres­i­dent was a very big deal,” John­son said.

In his win­ning 1988 cam­paign, Bush was the last Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to carry Con­necti­cut, a sign that the state has be­come more Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can can­di­dates have moved to the right.

Dick Fo­ley, a for­mer state Repub­li­can Party chair­man and state leg­is­la­tor who was Bush’s Con­necti­cut cam­paign man­ager in 1992, re­calls apol­o­giz­ing to the pres­i­dent the week­end be­fore he left of­fice in Jan­uary 1993 for fail­ing to win the state a sec­ond time for him.

“Oh, Dick, don’t be like that,” the pres­i­dent told him. “It’s not your fault. It’s my fault.”

ST­EF­FEN E. CRETELLA/AP

John G. Row­land, left, whis­pers to for­mer first lady Bar­bara Bush at a re­cep­tion to ben­e­fit Row­land’s cam­paign for gov­er­nor in Green­wich on Oct. 1, 1994. Row­land, a Repub­li­can, won the en­dorse­ment and sup­port of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, right, and Bar­bara Bush. Row­land served as state chair­man for Bush’s re-elec­tion cam­paign in 1992.

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