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Remembering President Bush

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By Jim Greatorex, Vice President, VGM Live at Home

Back in Maine in 2012, I had the honor of meeting the late President George H.W. Bush in a unique way.

Early that summer, we had provided the president with a lift chair through our store, Black Bear Medical – but that’s a story for another time! In late August I got a call from Invacare’s lobbyist, Cara Bachenheimer. She told me that Mal Mixon, Invacare CEO at the time, wanted to get President Bush a new wheelchair. HBO released a documentary on President Bush, called “41,” and Mal saw him on TV at the press release in a very basic wheelchair. Cara told me, “Jim, we have to get President Bush a new wheelchair. Mal wants it to happen.” I tell Cara that I can’t make the president take a new wheelchair, but we will try!

In our other dealings with the Bush family, we did get the contact information of his administrative assistant, so I called the young man. I said that this week the CEO of the world’s biggest wheelchair manufacturer saw the president on TV and felt that the wheelchair he was in was not “presidential” enough and asked if we could provide an upgrade. The answer? Yes, we would love an ultralight, candy red, better-fitting wheelchair! The Invacare rep for Maine, Jeff Randall, and I were excited to deliver the wheelchair, as well as getting to meet George and Barbara.

About 10 days later we got the wheelchair in and the arrangements were made, which included background checks – and who knows what else for Jeff and me – for us to deliver the chair to his Kennebunkport, Maine, residence.

We got to the gate in front of his property, and the man there took our driver’s licenses and kept them as the gate to the property slid open. We drove in and the gate immediately closed while we were escorted up to their home. That’s when all formality stopped as both George and Barbara came out of the house to greet us. They could not have been more cordial, and the picture above was taken by Barbara on my cell phone! It was so great to meet them and get a glimpse of the beautiful property in which they lived during the summer months.

With his recent passing, the country had a chance to reflect on all the major events that happened during his presidency and how well he served his country in many capacities. What an honor it was for Jeff and me to get our 10 minutes with a great American. He will be greatly missed!