Area residents recall encounters with former president

By  | 

(KWTX) Area residents were sharing stories Tuesday of their encounters with former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at his home in Houston at the age of 94.

The former president entertained Summer Shine for half an hour in January of 1979 at the inauguration of Republican Gov. Bill Clements when she was just 3-months old. (Courtesy photo)

Summer Shine, the owner of Luna Juice Bar in Waco, was just 3 months old in January of 1979 when her mother took her to the inauguration of Republican Gov. Bill, Clements in Austin.

Her mother, then 30, who was actively involved in the Republican Party, spotted Bush and went over to introduce herself.

Shine’s mother later told her that Bush carried her around for a half hour, while visiting with Shine’s 15-year-old sister.

She has a photograph that was taken that day.

"It's in a frame sitting in on my record player at home today," Shine said.

"My mom said he loved kids. When she approached him, she said he stood up and walked me around and bounced me."

Days later Bush announced he would run for president in 1980.

"That picture was all over the national news," Shine said.

Bush lost to Ronald Reagan in the GOP primary, but went on to become Reagan’s vice president.

Retired Lt. Gen. Don Jones, who now lives in Killeen, said he had more than 30 encounters with Bush while serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense.

The two met on many occasions during Jones three decades in Washington, D.C. focusing on such issues as promoting women in the military.

But one of the retired veteran’s proudest moments was in 1988 when he and Bush honored the first African American soldier to receive the Medal of Honor.

"During World War II there had never been a Congressional Medal of Honor given to a black soldier," Jones said.

"This soldier was recommended for the Medal of Honor but it was never followed through."

Jones then set out on a mission to gather all the information and honor the soldier killed in combat which he was able to do thanks to Bush's support.

A ceremony was held which included the two living sisters of the honoree where a cherished photo was snapped of the pair.

"He was so gracious to the family and to me as well," Jones said.

Christina Crenshaw is now a Baylor professor, but as a student at Texas A&M working for MSC Hospitality she served the former president on a handful of occasions, and also recalls his graciousness.

"In the handful of times I worked with George and Barbara, they were always gracious, kind, engaged, and overall interested in the people who were serving them. I can only imagine that caliber of character is cultivated from a lifetime of serving others," Crenshaw said.

Jana Hixon of Waco now works in the office of Central Texas Congressman Bill Flores, but has long had an interest in politics.

In 1995 as a senior at Westlake High School in Austin she performed with a school show choir for then Gov. George W. Bush during his first Christmas as governor.

Little did she know his father, the former president, was there, as well.

"During one of the breaks in our performance, Gov., Bush said 'After y'all perform, if you can wait a while, dad would love to meet you. He is taking a bath,’" Hixon remembers.

"He came downstairs and we sang a few more songs for him and got to meet former President H.W. Bush,” she said.

Hixon said she was lucky in a time when cameras weren't readily accessible that a friend happened to have one with which to capture the moment.

"This was the age before cameras on every phone. Actually I didn't even have a phone," she said.

"But thankfully, my good friend brought her mom's camera and we were able to snap a picture with both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush."

"This picture sits on my desk in my office and is a cherished memory. At that point in my life, I planned to go to law school and hoped I would have a career in government, but wasn't sure how my career would unfold. This picture is a perfect representation of two passions in my life, singing, music and government as well as two incredible men."

Lorna Herring of McGregor met the former president when she was in her early 20’s and working in Houston at the Tanglewood Bank inside the Memorial Building where Bush had an office.

Usually Bush had his Secret Service agents take care of his banking needs downstairs, but occasionally he surprised bank employees.

“Sometimes he would come in the office himself and I waited on him,” Hering said.

“I was always so nervous, and he was so laid back and normal.”


The former president entertained Summer Shine for half an hour in January of 1979 at the inauguration of Republican Gov. Bill Clements when she was just 3-months old. (Courtesy photo)