Before he rose to national and international fame, former President George Herbert Walker Bush was a political force to be reckoned with in Texas.
Born in Massachusetts and educated at Yale University after serving in World War II, Bush moved to Texas in the late 1940s where he snatched up a job in Texas’ bread and butter industry, oil and gas.
He made his political debut as chairman of the Harris County Republican Party at a time when Republicans in Texas were few and far between.
“We don’t often sing the praises of county political chairs,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “But he was one of the most important early leaders in the Republican Party in Texas. He fundamentally gave it life in Houston before moving onto national politics.”
It was in Houston where the 41st president of the United States and beloved Texas patriarch died Friday at the age of 94.
Salutes to Bush came flooding in Friday and Saturday from Texas elected officials and friends:
James A. Baker III, U.S. Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff under President H.W. Bush:
“The legacy of George H.W. Bush will be forever etched in the history of America and the world. It is a lifelong record of selfless patriotic service to our nation. He was the youngest Navy pilot in World War II, a Texas congressman, UN ambassador, America’s first envoy to China, CIA director, vice president and president. In each and every one of these positions, he led with strength, integrity, compassion and humility — characteristics that define a truly great man and effective leader. With a singularly unique consistency, he always demonstrated these traits, whether on the global stage or interacting with people in his everyday life. His passion was a deep love of family and our country. It was my pleasure and great joy to have had him as my special friend for more than 60 years. Susan joins me in grieving the passing of our dear friend and sending the entire Bush family our deepest love and condolences.”
Gov. Greg Abbott:
“The state of Texas mourns with the nation at the passing of one of our greatest Presidents. George H.W. Bush was an American hero and icon, he was a friend to all he met, he embodied class and dignity. Texans are genuinely honored that he called the Lone Star State home and we collectively grieve this monumental loss. On behalf of Texas, Cecilia and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the Bush family in their time of need.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick:
“Jan and I express our deepest condolences to the Bush family on the passing of our former President, George H. W. Bush. President Bush was a great Texan whose life and work exemplify public service and love for his country. His lasting legacy will inspire Americans for generations to come.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton:
“I join all Americans and Texans in mourning the passing of a true patriot and fine president, George H.W. Bush. Across six decades, President Bush served his country courageously and selflessly. His impact on the global stage, our nation and Texas history will be his single greatest legacy to future generations. And we will forever cherish the memory of the love he shared with his beloved Barbara, who preceded him in death. President Bush was an inspiration to all of us and he will be greatly missed.”
Land Commissioner George P. Bush, George H.W. Bush's grandson:
“He was more than a great man; he was a good man. His courage was matched by his compassion; and his dedication to country was equaled only by his devotion to his family. Gampy, we love you and we will miss you. But we will never forget you.”
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn:
“Having adopted the state of Texas as his home as a young adult, we Texans were privileged to have him as one of our own. President Bush once said, ‘I am a Texan and an American … What more could a man ask?’ I don’t think anyone could have said it better. His uncompromising service to Texas and this nation can never be duplicated or fully quantified, but his impact is unmistakable and his legacy everlasting. I know all Texans and Americans across the country join Sandy and me in mourning a courageous American leader as we send our deepest condolences to the entire Bush family.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz:
“President Bush was the last of the Greatest Generation to sit in the Oval Office, but his resolve will not be lost to the past; it will triumph onward. In his words, ‘the old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.’ Today, George and his beloved Barbara are together, enjoying a well-deserved rest from their labors. Today, his spirit joins a thousand points of light with his Creator, by whose brilliance may all our works be illuminated and inspired.”
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus:
“George Bush was the type of person who all of us should aspire to be: He was an unfailingly kind man who never wavered in his devotion to his family, his principles, his country, and his belief in serving others. For all the acts of service that he inspired and encouraged, it was his life that proved to be the most brilliant point of light of all. My family and I were honored to call President and Mrs. Bush our friends for many decades, and we will always be grateful to have known them and to have witnessed their enormous contribution to the country they so deeply loved.”
U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso:
“George H.W. Bush will be missed and long remembered for his leadership, his decency & his essential kindness. Served his country in so many ways. Made public service about country, and America’s responsibility in the world, less about party. Our thoughts are with the Bush family.”
U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston:
“Shortly after being elected to Congress, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a statement indicating that former President George H.W. Bush desired to meet with me. After overcoming my sense of disbelief, I honored his request and had a private meeting with him in Houston, Texas. It was much longer than I expected and ended with him giving me some sage advice: because others will have an agenda for you, one of your most difficult challenges will be setting an agenda for yourself. Truer words were never spoken.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan:
“As Congressman for the 17th District, I am humbled to represent his adopted home, Texas A&M University, the location of his Presidential Library where he and Barbara will be interred together. Together, they left an unforgettable example of love, humility and servant leadership for all of us who call the Brazos Valley home. George H.W. Bush will forever be remembered as a leader, a statesman, loyal husband, loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, mentor and friend. In particular, Gina and I will never forget the examples of down-home hospitality that he shared with us. As a couple of folks who grew up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle, we would often pinch ourselves as we concluded each of our get-togethers with he and Barbara.”
U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Lewisville:
“From the Yale baseball diamond to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to the streets of Beijing to the halls of the White House, President Bush led a life of humble leadership, courage, and conviction. Though he held many prestigious positions, he will be long remembered for the roles he held most dear: as a devoted husband to Barbara Pierce and a loving father to their children and grandchildren. President Bush made an indelible mark on Americans across the nation. There is no doubt that the State of Texas, the United States of America, and the global community are better because of George H.W. Bush, and we are grateful to his family for sharing him with us.”
State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway:
“America's longest married "first couple" are together again, reunited in spirit. The 41st President and Mrs. Bush demonstrated to the world that true love is enduring. That love at first sight is a godsend, not a fairy tale. Thank you for your sacrifices, your service to our country, your commitment to public service and for the many blessings that you bestowed upon us. God be with you both and may you rest in peace.”
Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association:
“He was a pioneer in the industry, one of the first to explore offshore drilling. As the President of Zapata Off-shore Co., he was a member of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, and we are grateful for his contribution to our mission. President Bush was a remarkable man, husband, father, businessman, mentor, role model, public servant and World War II hero whose impact will always be felt across the world, the United States, Texas, and the Texas oil and natural gas industry.”
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