RICHMOND, Va. – As the nation mourns the passing of George H. W. Bush, members of the Rotary Club of South Richmond remember of the former president as a warm and generous “nice fellow.”
President Bush visited Richmond as the star speaker of the rotary’s three-speaker forum on Feb. 22, 2002, to raise money for the International Hospital for Children.
"What a wonderful, warm welcome back to Richmond, a city that I love, been to many, many times,” Bush said to the crowd.
Ed Tillett with the Rotary Club of South Richmond said the group’s hard work and determination paid off in attracting Bush for the event.
"We ended the night with about $230,000 in charity in one night," Tillett said.
Tillett said it was clear that Bush “genuinely cared” about the group’s charitable mission.
"I said it once and I'll say it again and again there can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others," Bush said.
"We took 440 pictures of him with patrons and guests that came to see him,"
Accordingly, Barry Krauss with the Rotary Club of South Richmond said the group snapped "440 pictures of him with patrons and guests" at the event.
Tillett said Bush worked hard that night.
"He knew what his role was… He must of shaken hundreds of hands that night and really was proud of the fact he had done it," Tillett said.
Additionally, officials with the group said the president donated his $75,000 speaking fee to three of his three of his charities in the group’s name.
Seventeen years after the event, members of the group, like Bob Lamoree, have fond memories of a remarkable man who lived an extraordinary life.
"He's a really nice fellow and it just came out when you talked to him,” Lamoree said.
One Rotarian likened meeting Bush to seeing his grandfather – making him instantly comfortable and at ease. No airs and graces, just a fine, upstanding man dedicated to service and his country.