Warwick residents mourn passing of friend and fishing buddy President George Herbert Walker Bush
Bill and Yvette Busch recall a gracious and kind man, a friend and a mentor


Provided photo President George H.W. Bush fishing with Warwick resident Bill Busch.

By Roger Gavan
WARWICK — As the world knows, George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, peacefully passed away last Friday, Nov. 30, at the age of 94.
The former president was an avid fisherman and a frequent fishing companion was Warwick resident and building contractor Bill Busch, who pronounces his name the same but spells it differently.
In 1987 Bill and Yvette Busch purchased a summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, a favorite retreat for President George H. and Barbara Bush.
"He was the president when I first met him in 1988," recalled Bill Busch. "He didn't have much time off but whenever the president could spend a few days in Kennebunkport, he often went out fishing. We shared the same boat mechanic as well as a passion for fishing and soon after I was introduced, we went fishing together as often as possible. It became our bond."
After he left the White House, Bush now had extra time and he and Busch would fish every time they were together, not only at Kennebunkport, but also on fishing trips to other places in the world like Newfoundland and Panama where they were joined by that country's President Martin Torrijos.
'Call me Vladimir'Since fishing was frequently on the agenda when dignitaries were invited to Kennebunkport, Busch found himself enjoying his favorite sport at various times in the company of then-President George W. Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Nicholas Sargozy among other well-known guests.
Busch knew the 43rd president ever since he was governor of Texas but he added, "I was always surprised when someone like Putin told me to call him Vladimir. They all seemed so ordinary when we were out fishing together."
Those fishing trips, however, were not ordinary.
"We were never alone," said Busch. "Our boat was constantly surrounded by the Secret Service and the military both on the sea and in the air. No other boat was allowed to approach us but if we wished, we could pull up to another fishing vessel.
"It was fun to see the expression and disbelief on the faces of other fisherman when the President of the United States pulls alongside to ask what kind of a day they're having," he added.
Bill and Yvette Busch were often invited to White House events and even had an opportunity stay overnight and then join George W. and Laura Bush on a Marine One helicopter flight to a signing of an executive order to protect America's striped bass and red drum fish.
And it didn't seem strange to Busch that when they were not fishing, he might find himself sitting around a table discussing current events with the president and the former president of the United States.
Shopping at Wal-Mart with Barbara BushYvette Busch also enjoyed a close relationship with Barbara Bush.
On one occasion she recalls that Barbara Bush invited her to hop into her sports car and join her on a shopping trip to Wal-Mart.
She and the former President were planning a trip to China and she needed to purchase some luggage and other things for the trip.
Yvette Busch offered to help carry the packages to the car but Barbara Bush insisted that was her job and carried everything out like any other ordinary shopper.
“I absolutely loved her,” she said.
'A gracious and a fine man'In 2008 Bill Busch was one of the people interviewed in a PBS documentary about the life of George Herman Walker Bush.
“I lost a very special friend and mentor in President Bush,” said Bill Busch. “His kindness, compassion, wisdom and sense of humor will stay with me always.”
Yvette Busch added: “He was a gracious and fine man. I loved, and felt honored, to be around him.”