Larry Ruvo im­pressed Bush with at­ten­tion to de­tail

Late pres­i­dent as­sisted in cen­ter’s de­vel­op­ment

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER - By John Katsilometes John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A sec­tion. His PodKats pod­cast can be found at re­viewjour­nal.com/pod­casts.

Larry Ruvo is known for his per­sonal touch. If you ca­su­ally men­tion to him that you fa­vor a par­tic­u­lar brand of liquor, don’t be sur­prised if Ruvo will send you a case of the spirit the very next week.

Ruvo’s per­sonal touch reached Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush dur­ing the days when the Cleve­land Clinic Lou Ruvo Cen­ter for Brain Health was still un­der con­struc­tion. In 2002, Bush vis­ited Ruvo, whom he’d met years ear­lier through Sig Rogich, the for­mer as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent, among other Ve­gas power play­ers.

Bush was in­vited to tour the Ruvo Cen­ter site and also meet with Ruvo at South­ern Wine & Spir­its of Ne­vada (now South­ern Glaz­ers of Ne­vada), where Ruvo serves as se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor.

Bush and Ruvo were led to the lav­ish din­ing area in the busi­ness’ Las Ve­gas head­quar­ters. They were handed menus, and un­der “Cock­tails,” Bush read aloud, “Avenger! You have a drink called Avenger?” “Yes, Mr. Pres­i­dent,” Ruvo replied. “Larry, no­body knows what that means,” Bush replied, star­tled.

“This is not no­body,” Ruvo said with a laugh. “We do our home­work.”

The Avenger drink was ac­tu­ally listed specif­i­cally for Bush’s visit. It’s the name of the bomber in which Bush was shot down in Septem­ber 1944 dur­ing World War II.

“From that point on, we had a great bond,” Ruvo said Satur­day of Bush, who died Fri­day night at age 94. “He was a ma­jor sup­porter of the work we had planned at the Cleve­land Clinic and recorded a video for us dur­ing that trip to show his sup­port.”

Ruvo would be­come fi­nance chair of Ge­orge W. Bush’s Ne­vada cam­paign dur­ing the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The younger Bush, too, was in­stru­men­tal in rais­ing aware­ness for the Cleve­land Clinic in its early in­cep­tion.

The elder Bush in­vited the Ruvo fam­ily to his res­i­dence in Ken­neb­unkport, Maine. Larry Ruvo and the for­mer pres­i­dent shared an af­fec­tion for boat­ing, and took an ex­tended trip on Bush’s yacht.

“He was start­ing to have prob­lems with Parkin­son’s at the time, and when we were com­ing back in he said, ‘You take it in,’ ” Ruvo said “I went, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Dock this boat.’ So I’m deal­ing with the man who was com­man­der-in-chief telling me to dock this boat, and it took all of my yacht­ing skills to do it. We got back in, and he said, ‘I have found my new boat cap­tain!’ ”

The Ru­vos and Bushes also took a train trip aboard a 1950s-vin­tage Union Pa­cific train from Car­son City through North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, up the Cal­i­for­nia coast and into Ore­gon. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter John Ma­jor and Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger were on that trip, too.

Bush had the train stop at a re­mote lo­ca­tion in the Wil­lamette Na­tional For­est and had the group hike to Proxy Falls, a cas­cad­ing and pic­turesque nat­u­ral mon­u­ment. “We went to this beau­ti­ful water­fall to­gether, hik­ing more than a mile, to get there, then came back on the train,” Ruvo said. “About a year later, Peter Lik, the pho­tog­ra­pher, comes to visit and shows me this beau­ti­ful pic­ture of a water­fall. I said, ‘I’ve been there!’ ”

Lik was in dis­be­lief, given the re­mote lo­ca­tion of the spot. Ruvo then called Bush to ver­ify, who told Lik, “There is a train track there and we hiked to that spot.” Ruvo bought a print of the photo, and it now hangs in the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Cen­ter in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

“He was ab­so­lutely one of the great­est peo­ple I’ve known,” Ruvo said of Bush. “When you look at what he has ac­com­plished, his life of ser­vice, he de­serves all the praise and all the ac­co­lades you can give him. Ge­orge and Bar­bara Bush were Amer­i­can roy­alty.”

Photo pro­vided by Larry Ruvo

Larry Ruvo is shown with Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush at the Clark County Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter dur­ing Bush’s visit in 2002.

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