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Governor’s Address: George H.W. Bush Was “Maine’s President”

It was with great sadness that Ann and I learned about the passing of George H.W. Bush last week. He was a man who truly dedicated his life to his family and to his country.

George Herbert Walker Bush served as the forty-first President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He was a New Englander, born in Massachusetts and growing up in Connecticut. He spent every summer at his family’s home in Kennebunkport. Walker’s Point was the Bush family retreat for more than a century, beginning with the President’s father and mother, Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker.

Although he moved to Texas to work in the oilfields, his heart stayed in Walker’s Point. President Bush and his wonderful wife Barbara, whom we also lost this year, were active members of the Kennebunkport community.

They put Maine on the international map, welcoming national and international leaders to Maine’s coast for many years – as Vice President, President, and during the presidency of his son, George W. Bush. But they also participated in the events that make our small-town way of life so sought after: watching Memorial Day Parades, attending pancake breakfasts and community fundraisers, reading to children at the library, and going to church.

In July 2017, President Bush said Kennebunkport “has always been a part of my life – a place where our big, close family has always come together surrounded by good friends and wonderful townspeople. In that sense, Kennebunkport has been my anchor to windward through a full and challenging life. It has kept me grounded and focused on what is really important.” That is a wonderful compliment to the people of Kennebunkport and Maine.

The Bushes have given so much to our state. Their support of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland is a high-profile example. Having lost their own daughter, Robin, to leukemia when she was 3 years old, helping children live long and healthy lives was an obvious fit. Their support of Maine’s largest children’s hospital has helped thousands of families facing one of life’s most difficult challenges, the illness or injury of a child.

For 17 years, President Bush hosted a charity golf event to benefit Gary’s House, a program of Mercy Hospital. Gary’s House offers a “home away from home” to families whose loved ones are receiving medical treatment in Portland. This annual George H.W. Bush Golf Classic has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and brought celebrities, sports stars, and former presidents to Cape Arundel Golf Club.

Barbara’s chosen charity as first lady was literacy, and she brought her support home to Maine. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has supported reading education initiatives across Maine. My wife Ann was blessed to have the opportunity to join forces with Barbara to help spread a love of reading in Maine’s children. These are just a few examples of their kindness.

This year, the Maine people have shown an outpouring of respect and gratitude for President George H.W. Bush’s great service to our nation. They also remember him and Barbara as kind neighbors and good friends. I urge all Mainers, especially our public figures, to strive to be the kind of people and leaders George and Barbara have been. They are the best role models we can have.

We thank the entire Bush family for their support of Maine, our people, and our worthy charities. Know that your parents will never be forgotten in our hearts.

Thank you.

Paul LePage


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