GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There aren’t many people in South Mississippi who have a deeper connection and dedication to George Herbert Walker Bush than Bob Sawyer of Gulfport.
He has what he calls the Bush wall lined with photographs of the 41st president, some posing with him and his wife Suzie.
“George Bush was an incredible president,” he said. “Very religious man, loved his staff that he worked with. It was just a great opportunity to be able to work for him.”
Sawyer was in his 30s when he was asked to work on the president’s advance team to help make presidential trips run like clockwork. It was the result of making a lot of connections with the Republican party.
“They brought me in as a friend and said, ‘Look. Do you want to be a part of the advance team with the president, travel all over the world, and you make tremendous friends and contacts for life?'”
He ended up serving for Bush’s entire four-year term.
One of his favorite pictures was one showing Sawyer in the foreground while Bush was in a boat fishing.
“I was very fortunate because the Bushes loved to fish, and I got to go on almost all their fishing trips," he said.
One trip to a Major League All-Star game in Toronto yielded one of his favorite mementos: a signed baseball from presidential guests Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio.
An even bigger event was a historic visit by President Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle to Gulfport he coordinated right after the Republican National Convention in 1992.
“I got a call that the president’s going to make a stop and do a fundraiser,” Sawyer said. “And, they said, pick a location and let’s start putting that together.”
Sawyer said he admired Bush for both person and party.
“George Bush is probably the last of the type of presidents that had incredible worldwide experience,” he said. “It’s a sad day for all of us. Just like when Barbara died. It’s a sad day for all of us.”