Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prescott S. Bush, Jr. (1922-2010)

Greenwich said goodbye today to Prescott S. Bush, Jr., the last of a long family line to live most if not all of his life here in Town. "Pres", as he was universally known, died a week ago on June 23, and the fact that it took seven days to gather the Bush clan shows just how far-flung they have become over the last several decades. But come they did, from Texas and C0lorado and Massachusetts and just about every point in between.

His brother George, our 41st President, was the cause of all the police and Secret Service protection, and was accompanied by his wife, Barbara. His sister, Nan, whom your scribe had last seen as a neighbor in Concord, MA over half a century ago, came down from Boston. The front five rows of the church pews had to be reserved for the large number of children and grandchildren and cousins and uncles and aunts. Very few of them still live in the Greenwich area, Diddle McAllister being one of the few exceptions.

The service was lovely, with a full choir performing beautifully. Jamie Bush, Pres's son, allowed as how former organist Claude Means would have fainted dead away at the thought of him speaking in church, and took time to praise the singing of the John Goss descant that "takes us halfway to heaven." His sister Kelsey told us that "Pres's vocation was loving people," and of his love of Gilbert & Sullivan and of golf. And, of course, of his wife, Beth, whom he always described as the best thing that ever happened to him. He dropped out of Yale to follow her to South America, and undoubtedly felt that he got much the better of the bargain.

The reception afterwards was at the Round Hill Club, and your wily scribe, putting to good use his knowledge of the highways and byways of Greenwich, made a graceful arabesque which put him right behind the police convoy at the corner of North Maple and Lake. Thus he had his own little escort all the way up Round Hill to the club. This gave him a few minutes to chat with President Bush before the rest of the crowd arrived, reminiscing about the days when he was Bush's finance co-chairman for the State of Connecticut - along with Walt Rafferty, Bush's brother-in-law - which got Barbara reminiscing about her sister Martha.

And what was that in your scribe's hand? Why, a pair of Inauguration covers from 1980 and 1988, each with a portrait of George Bush as Vice President and then as President. They were hand-cancelled on Inauguration Day right here in Greenwich, CT, back in the days when we still had a post office worthy of the name. (These days the post office building is up for sale, and the skeleton staff still on duty may - or more likely, may not - get around to giving you your mail during the course of the week in which it comes in.)

Bush immediately reached for a pen, and in seconds the two covers bore Presidential autographs. From his surprise and delight at seeing them, it seemed evident that he had not come across any like them before. So now there are two nice pieces of local history memorabilia where earlier there had been none.

Beth Bush held court on the terrace overlooking the golf course that Pres loved so much, and everyone had a story to tell about something he had done to help them or a family member, e.g., getting a son into the Naval Academy or a daughter into West Point. Sadly, his passing brings to an end the Bush family era here in Greenwich, and the hedgies that have inundated the Town in recent years don't even come up to his knees in stature, however many millions or billions they may have.

The Christ Church choir - which Pres loved - said it all with their lovely rendition of John Rutter's version of the Aaronic bessing:

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you peace."

RIP, Prescott Sheldon Bush, Jr.


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