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Memorial service set for George H. W. Bush

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

A local memorial service for former President George H. W. Bush will be held on Dec. 7 at Clanton Elementary School, the site of his 1979 presidential election announcement.

The Chilton County Republican Party is creating a memorial and organizing the event. The service will be held at noon at the CES flag pole.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Philip Guin, former chaplain of Arlington Cemetery, will officiate the memorial service.

Bush died on Nov. 30, and the funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral on Dec. 5.

In 1979 on the campaign trail for the presidency, Bush stopped in Montgomery, Clanton and Birmingham.

Chilton County Republican Party Alan Childress said Alabama had mostly Democrats as elected officials back then, but Chilton County was largely a Republican county.

“We were deemed a hospitable site for him to make his announcement,” Childress said.

Clanton was also chosen because the Bush family had friends and acquaintances in the area.

Although Ronald Reagan beat Bush in that primary, Bush became his vice president and succeeded him as president.

“President Bush (was) a patriot,” Childress said. “He (was) a public servant. He had a heart for people.”

Mike Colson, who is a part of the memorial committee, said he saw the temporary memorial to  Bush as a good educational opportunity for the students at CES.

“George Bush was one of my favorite presidents,” Colson said. “No one was more qualified to be president.”

Colson said Bush was “a transformational president.”

Local resident Hugh “Lally” Bates served as president of the Post Masters Association during the Bush era, and local resident John Will Pitts worked on his campaigns.

Colson had been in charge of publicity for the Bush visit. He said Pitts had been influential in Bush choosing Clanton as an announcement location.

Colson said each of the three national networks at the time came to cover the event.

“It did receive national coverage and local coverage,” Colson said. “There are a few of us still Living that were a part of it.”

These include Joe Mims, Dan Nolen and Fern Baker.