News Column

Bush Library Collecting Cards from Aggie Well-wishers

Dec. 28, 2012

Allen Reed

As former President George H.W. Bush is being treated in a Houston hospital, he's not only received comfort from relatives, but the well wishes of his Aggie family.

A spokesman for the 41st president said Wednesday that Bush, 88, was in intensive care with a persistent fever. The former president entered Methodist Hospital on Nov. 23 for a bronchitis-related cough, and the spokesman said Thursday that there were no new details to report on Bush's condition, which was downgraded to "guarded" on Sunday.

Throughout the lengthy stay, which eclipsed both Thanksgiving and Christmas, family, friends and the Aggie faithful have been sending their thoughts and prayers to the president, who is a frequent visitor to College Station. On Nov. 29, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which Bush chose to locate on Texas A&M's campus in 1997, posted on its Facebook page that it would pass along messages from well-wishers.

That post was shared more than 350 times, liked by more than 200 people and has received comments spanning from late November through Thursday. The comments were filled with wishes such as "wishing a quick recovery. God bless!" and "get well soon mr pres."

A&M officials said they were unsure how many cards and notes were handled by the university; the person who processed them was on Christmas vacation.

Fred McClure, CEO of the Bush Library Foundation and a former senior member of Bush's White House staff, said the library has been flooded with flowers, cards, letters and phone calls.

"This community has come to love the Bush family," McClure said. "When they are here, there's a noticeable buzz whether or not the two of them are on campus or in the community, from restaurants to schools. The affection the community has for the Bushes is noticeable and overwhelming, actually."

McClure visited Bush on Dec. 17 and said the former president was in good spirits and happened to be in a Texas A&M warm-up suit admiring his newly autographed Johnny Manziel football.

"He loves A&M, and A&M loves him," McClure said. "It's a mutual feeling. The presidents, both of them, are extremely happy to be adopted, if you will, by the Aggie family. ... He loves this place, and I think that affection is reciprocated."

The president had received well wishes from all living presidents, McClure said, and from former Vice President Dan Quayle. Bush also had been contacted by prominent leaders in Kuwait, China, Saudi Arabia, singer Reba McEntire, former Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens, actress Teri Hatcher, actor Sam Waterston and others.

"Basically, it's just an outpouring from all of his friends," McClure said.

Bush is immensely meaningful to Texas A&M and the Brazos Valley, McClure said.

"The impact of the [Bush] school is far more than a long-range, permanent tribute to his public service, because it allows us to educate men and women who agree with the president's view that public service is a noble calling, and hopefully our graduates will reflect not only favorably on his distinguished public service career, but on quality of academic programs at Texas A&M," McClure said.

The condition of the former president was on the minds of visitors who ventured out into the wet weather to visit the presidential library Thursday afternoon.

"He represents what I think is the best part of political life and something that I think we need more, which is a willingness to look to what the nation needs and understand that even the people who disagree with you have the nation's best interest at heart," said John Vastano, an Aggie transplanted to California who was visiting with family.

Sandy Story, from Washington, was traveling with her husband. She said they had great admiration for Bush.

"He is just good people," Story said. "I think he is a wonderful man and I've been praying for him. ... He'd better get better."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


(c)2012 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas)

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Source: The Eagle, Bryan, Texas

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