Former President George H.W. Bush is being remembered for the value he placed on writing letters to people he knew and admired.
He regularly set aside time each evening during his presidency to pen letters and cards, The Washington Post noted after his death last week.
In a letter of encouragement to a marine who accidentally dropped his rifle during a parade, the president wrote, “I want to thank you and the others in the platoon for a super performance.”
He also wrote to staff members to congratulate them on their achievements.
“I frequently received a thank-you note from the president for a job well done, and this kindness and courtesy made it a joy to work with him,” Condoleezza Rice, a Bush adviser, recalled in one of her memoirs.
The president began writing letters long before he entered politics.
He regularly penned notes to his wife, Barbara, while they were engaged and he was serving as a Navy pilot during World War II.
“I love you precious with all my heart and to know you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday,” he wrote in one note.
His letter-writing habit continued after he left office.
After publishing a tribute to the Bush presidency in 1998, William P. Warford, a newspaper columnist for the Antelope Valley Press in California, was surprised to receive an envelope a few days later with a Kennebunkport, ME, return address.
“I was deeply touched by your kind words and generous assessment of what I tried to do as president,” Bush’s letter stated.
In 2001, the former president wrote to two children who had been adopted by his onetime speechwriter, according to an account this week in the Democrat & Chronicle, a Rochester, NY, newspaper.
“I want to be your friend,” the letter read. “I used to be President of the United States. Now, though, I am a happy, private citizen.”
The 41st president compiled his many letters into a 717-page memoir, “All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings,” that was published in 2013.
Not all of his notes were mailed: He is credited with starting the tradition of an outgoing president leaving a letter for his successor on Inauguration Day.
The 1993 letter that he penned to Bill Clinton has received praise for its show of bipartisanship and unity.
“Your success now is our country’s success,” he wrote. “I am rooting hard for you.”