Since former President George H.W. Bush died recently at the age of 94, his character of dignity and respect continues to shine even more so as his sincere, touching words in handwritten letters come to light.
It has now been revealed that the 41st president’s shared letters with a secret friend, as he sponsored a Filipino boy named Timothy through the nonprofit Compassion International; he would sign his name as “George Walker,” Compassion president emeritus, Wess Stafford, told The Gazette.
The beginning of a friendship
Bush’s sponsorship of the Filipino boy had to be kept a secret to make the sure boy wasn’t in danger if someone found out he’d been talking to a former president of the United States, Stafford told The Gazette.
Stafford was, at the time, the president of the organization and the one who would help screen Bush’s letters to make sure nothing in them revealed Bush’s identity.
Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993, was at a Christmas concert in Washington, D.C. in 2000, when a performer asked if anyone would like information on sponsoring a child.
“To everybody’s surprise, all of a sudden George Sr. raises his hand in the middle of his security entourage and says, ‘I want one!'” Stafford said. “And all of these security people were like, ‘Has anybody screened this? Does anybody know if this is OK or not?'”
And so, his sponsorship began. In 2002, he introduced himself to Timothy in a letter, stating, “I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already. I live in Texas. I will write you from time to time. Good luck, George Walker.”
“He was everything that we wish all of our sponsors would be. He was engaged in this little child’s life,” Stafford said, adding that Bush hand wrote letters and drew photos, always looking for “common ground” with Timothy.
Normally, sponsors don’t send gifts due to issues with customs, but Bush insisted that a package full of colored pencils, crayons, paint, and sketch pads be delivered to Timothy in the Philippines after he learned the boy liked art.
“He did excellent things very quietly, always giving the credit away to other people,” Stafford said. “I just love that about him.”
The president sends bits about personal life
The former president didn’t stray from adding a few bits and pieces about his life, breaking a few of “our little security rules,” Stafford said.
The first time Bush did so was in a letter to Timothy when he included a photo of his dog Millie.
“This is Millie. She’s met lots of famous people,” Bush wrote in the letter.
“And I thought, ‘OK, that’s cute, but boy, that’s starting to slip some little secrets in there,'” Stafford said.
Check out a few of the letters below:
George H.W. Bush sponsored a Filipino child for 10 years, using a pseudonym to keep his identity a secret. Read some of the letters the former President and the boy sent each other https://t.co/UvdcTcXTiQ pic.twitter.com/mpViW2pwmd
— CNN (@CNN) December 19, 2018
In one letter he wrote to Timothy:
“Timothy, have you ever heard of the White House? That’s where the president of the USA lives.I got to go to the White House at Christmas time. Here is a little booklet that I got at the White House in Washington.”
“I would like to thank you for not forgetting me. You’re so nice and good.God is so good to us. He gives us the body & will to get to where we want to go.Thank you so much for the book, I like it very much.”
Bush later wrote another clue about his life when he said, “We’re going to have Christmas this year with my son at his house. Oh, and he lives in a big, white house,” Stafford said.
“And I’m like, ‘Come on, Mr. President. You are really pushing the envelope here,'” Stafford said.
The sponsored boy finds out who was behind the letters
When Bush’s health began to deteriorate, Stafford’s executive assistant Angie Lathrop took over the sponsorship. In 2010, Lathrop and her husband visited Timothy, who they said is “a very quiet and shy and sweet-spirited guy” with a “very tender spirit.”
Lathrop told Timothy who his sponsor was and he was “speechless.”
“Timothy, he was so dumbfounded, he was speechless. And he says, ‘Well, I knew that he was a kind and encouraging, wonderful man, but I had no idea.’ And I thought, you know, to a child in poverty, it’s amazing enough that anyone would care about them but it was beyond his wildest imagination and even his ability to comprehend that the president of the United States knew his name.”
Bush’s heart of compassion to serve the country, his family, and those close to him was remembered as his son, former President George W. Bush said in the eulogy that his father was a man who “showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity, leads with courage, and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country.”
“George H.W. Bush was a great president of the United States, a diplomat of unmatched skill, a commander and chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor,” the 43rd president said during the eulogy to his father.