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Nation mourns former president George H. W. Bush, a true public servant

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    A military honor guard carries the coffin bearing the remains of former President George H.W. Bush to Air Force One, dubbed Special Air Mission 41, at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Bush will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington with his coffin on display for public viewing until Wednesday morning.
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    In a photo provided by the office of former President George H.W. Bush, his service dog, a Labrador retriever named Sully, lies next to his coffin in Houston on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. Bush will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington beginning on Monday with his coffin on display for public viewing until Wednesday morning.
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    Contributed by F. Michael Tucker F. Michael Tucker, right, with George H. W. Bush in 1980 when Tucker was working on Bush’s primary campaign in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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    A makeshift memorial at the base of a statue of George H. W. Bush outside of his presidential library in College Station, Texas on Sunday. In some ways, Texas A&M seemed like an unlikely match for Bush’s presidential library and final resting place, but he forged a deep connection with the university.
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    A makeshift memorial outside the gated community where President George H. W. Bush lived in Houston, Texas on Sunday. Bush died Friday at the age of 94.
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    A flag flies at half staff at the Capitol in Washington prior to the arrival of the coffin bearing the remains of former President George H. W. Bush on Monday. Bush will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on display for public viewing until Wednesday morning.
December 3, 2018 04:43 pm Updated: December 4, 2018 01:13 pm

 

The country has seen an outpouring of support and best wishes for U.S. President George H.W. Bush after he died Nov. 30 with state officials honoring the former president who ferried the country into the post-Cold War era.

National and state officials issued statements honoring Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993. Bush also served as President Ronald Reagan’s vice president from 1981 to 1989.

F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corp., recalls Bush personally being a gracious person.

Tucker worked on Bush’s primary campaign in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1980 — a primary that saw Reagan rise to the presidency and made Bush vice president.

Tucker was 25 years old at the time and had just graduated from Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law in Pennsylvania in 1979.

“Bush represented a segment of the Republican Party that I aligned with,” Tucker said. “I had been active in campaigns all through college and law school.”

Bush won Pennsylvania and came in second to Reagan in the primary that year, which put him on the radar for future higher office, including the presidency, Tucker said.

“He used to get off of the airplane and say, ‘I must be in Pennsylvania, because you are here,’ instead of saying hello,” Tucker recalled. “And he had optimism early in the campaign in a primary with a lot of people running. He used to say we have, ‘big mo,’ as in momentum. He was incredibly gracious on a personal level and was always writing personal notes to almost everyone he met.”

In the years after the campaign, Tucker said he has met Bush or participated in events with Bush, some of which Tucker organized, around five different times.

“He led our country with integrity and distinction and his star shall shine bright in the annals of history,” Tucker said. “You might not have agreed with all of his policies, but he demonstrated his ability to lead. It was an honor to serve as state field director in President Bush’s 1980 Pennsylvania and New Jersey primary campaign.”

Greene County Republican Committee Chairman Brent Bogardus is saddened by Bush’s death, he said.

“I obviously am deeply saddened by his passing, but God bless him. He was 94 years old and had a very interesting life,” Bogardus said. “He was a true gentleman and well-respected throughout the country and certainly within our party.”

Bush died at his home in Texas just after 10 p.m. Friday. His body was transported to Washington, D.C., for a national funeral ceremony Monday. His body will then be returned to Texas, where he will be buried at Texas A&M University, the home of his presidential library.

Bush’s casket will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on display for public viewing until Wednesday morning.

“President George H. W. Bush was a man of integrity and honor,” said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19. “A hero in World War II and a remarkable public servant whose decency and kindness set an example for all. He was committed to our nation and to his family.”

Democrats also came out in honor of the late President Bush, saying his example is needed now more than ever.

“President George H. W. Bush will be greatly missed in many ways,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles B. Schumer, D-N.Y. “He was a fine man and even when he opposed your views, you knew he was doing what he thought was best for America. His yearning for a kinder and gentler nation seems more needed now than when he first called for it.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags on all state government grounds to be lowered to half staff in Bush’s honor and One World Trade Center’s 408-foot spire to be illuminated in red, white and blue Sunday night.

“President George H. W. Bush was a statesman and patriot who dedicated his life to serving his country,” Cuomo said. “In World War II, he answered the call of duty and became a decorated Navy pilot, and in the decades that followed, he helped to shape the largely peaceful world that we have enjoyed since 1945. He was also a great unifier of Americans at home, always willing to put country before party. On behalf of the New York Family, we are forever grateful for his service, mourn his passing and will keep his family in our prayers.”

The New York Times contributed to this report.

*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version. F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corp., met Bush or participated in events with him around five different times.