2018-12-05 / Editorial

Bush made an impression in Roxboro

Don Waldo is a great storyteller.

And he’s got some great stories to tell.

The former Roxboro mayor and Person High School history teacher spoke last month at the Veterans Day observance at the Person County History Museum and his 10-minute review of the cause and outcome of World War I was befitting of his professional career as an educator.

On Monday, after watching the procession of former President George H.W. Bush from Houston to Washington D.C., Waldo reached back into his own personal history for a remembrance of Bush.

Waldo was mayor of Roxboro in the early 1990s, when Bush was running for a second term as president against a young lawyer from Arkansas named Bill Clinton.

During the campaign, Bush stopped off in Charlotte to give a speech, where he was met by former Queen City Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Richard Vinroot.

Vinroot and Waldo knew each other from some of their party work in previous campaigns, so Vinroot and Waldo were on hand at Douglas International Airport when Bush touched down in Air Force One.

Vinroot introduced Waldo to the President, who then asked Waldo where his wife was.

Waldo explained to the president that, while he had the security clearance to be in the greeting area, his wife did not.

“Well, that’s too bad,” Bush reportedly told Waldo. “We’ll just have to go out there and find her.”

And, darned if that isn’t exactly what Bush did.

“We found her and President Bush leaned over and held out his hand and told her was sorry that his Secret Service detail hadn’t let her come into the reception area.

The short, unscripted exchange made an impression on Don Waldo.

Waldo’s mayoral duties brought him a chance to meet two presidents. He met President Ronald Reagan at the height of the Iranc-Contra scandal was in full swing. Waldo and the other people there to greet Reagan were discouraged from bringing that issue up during their brief visit with Reagan.

But Waldo admits much of his interaction with Reagan, unlike the meet and greet with Bush, was scripted right down to the last detail.

That spontaneity he saw in Bush struck a chord with Waldo.

Very few of us will likely ever meet a president in Person. They are largely sheltered from the public during their term in office, in part I’m sure, for their own safety, but also because they are pretty busy people.

Still, it’s interesting on the eve of Bush’s funeral, to get a glimpse of how the 41st president.

Presidents, despite their public personas, can be as warm and welcoming as the next guy.

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