State officials reflect on Bush’s legacy

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Republicans and Democrats from Madison County have joined the nation in examining the legacy of the late President George H. W. Bush, who died late Friday evening.

Madison County Republican Chairman Russ Willis never met Bush, but said the 41st president led by example.

“He wasn’t just saying what ought to be done or how it ought to be done. He led by example,” he said.

In fact, Willis said, Bush’s calm, peaceful leadership advanced his domestic and foreign policies.

“He had a calming effect on the country, yet he wasn’t afraid to step up and do what needed to be done,” he said. “He wasn’t reactionary. He would think things through, but he wouldn’t waste time making a decision.”

Willis, state GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. each pointed to Bush’s broad experience serving in the Navy, directing the Central Intelligence Agency and being elected vice president as preparing him for the nation’s top leadership role. Bush also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, an ambassador to the United Nations and in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Texas.

“He had a wide resume going in as vice president and then as president,” Willis said.

Bush’s legacy, Willis added, may be visible in the number of international companies that have sought to do business in Madison County, such as NTN Italla over the past several years.

“Bringing an end to the Cold War kind of opened up the world and got everyone working together more than they had in the past,” Willis said. “I think other nations weren’t as apprehensive in their dealings with us.”

Hupfer, a native of Madison County, said he once met Bush in passing many years ago at what he believes was a Republican fundraiser.

“I think that long before he was president, he was such a fixture in America as a war hero, leading the CIA and serving as vice president,” he said. “His legacy is he was a statesman and always looked to solve problems in a cooperative manner.”

Bush’s lasting impact on American society, Hupfer said, includes the growing influence of his family, which has included a second president and a governor of Florida.

“I just think that for a long time both he and Barbara were looked up to by so many people,” he said. “I think it’s a legacy that will endure because of that personal view that people had of them.”

But much of Bush’s legacy may not be known for a long time as historians continue to sift through his papers, Hupfer said.

“I think there’s always a re-examination of a president’s contributions to American society,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t know the extent of their legacy for decades.”

Even Democrat Broderick couldn’t deny the enduring legacy left by Bush.

“His real legacy was the public service he put forth,” Broderick said. “He was born to a well-to-do family, but he decided to give his life to public service.

“His legacy touches every aspect of American life, which touches everyone throughout the country.”