PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Across the U.S., flags are flying at half staff in remembrance of former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away Friday at the age of 94.
Oregonians may remember a time when the late president campaigned in the state — back before he ever held the tile of commander in chief.
The year was 1988. Bush had served as Ronald Regan’s vice president for the previous 8 years and hoped to succeed Regan as president.
Bush spoke to the people of Oregon as someone who shared their love of the state’s natural beauty.
“Here in the Northwest, you have this special appreciation for the purity of the planet, it’s an appreciation I share. We owe it to the future generations to protect our air,” Bush said to the gathered crowd.
But some Oregonians supported Bush long before his 1988 presidential campaign.
“I certainly followed how the entire campaign was going and I supported the Reagan-Bush ticket,” said Oregonian Kenneth Guenther.
Guenther first met Bush during the 1980 campaign.
“I met George Bush when he and Ronald Reagan were competing for the nomination of the presidency,” he said.
Guenther said he was scheduled to give a trade association speech when he realized primary candidate Bush was waiting backstage as well.
“We met in a small room assembled behind the stage, so he didn’t have to grand stand to anybody and we chatted for awhile about various things,” said Guenther.
Guenther said he ironically suggested Bush may make a good VP.
“He said, ‘Let me think about that, that’s a possibility.'”
Guenther said Bush’s response stuck with him, not just because Bush did indeed go on to serve as VP, but because he treated him with respect.
“Just one-on-one, nobody was going to pick up on anything we said because nobody else was there,” said Guenther. “He could have just brushed me off, someone who doesn’t count much for him, but that’s not the way he was.”
It was that kindness that Guenther remembers the now-deceased president for.
“He was gracious enough to give that personal touch and I thought that was remarkable in a person,” said Guenther.