With the passing of President George H.W. Bush, Americans everywhere are remembering his legacy.
“Take a moment and feel sad, because a part of our history has passed,” Tom Frisk of Rochester said.
With news of President George H. W. Bush passing late Friday night, it was the talk for many at Jay’s Diner Saturday.
“He was just a calm, cool, collected guy," Ray Giancursio of Fairport said. "He spoke very well and the European nations and everyone liked him, he was well respected and that’s why I respected him.”
As Americans, those we spoke to say they are mourning for the country.
"41 was a huge part of my youth, a huge part of my youth," Frisk said. "And it’s sad to see that time is gone.”
But the loss is even more personal for one local man, who wrote presidential addresses for the president during the White House years and for years after.
“As an employee, as a writer and a friend. So it was not unexpected, but it was a jolt, because it was a relationship I treasured and treasure to this day,” said former speechwriter Curt Smith.
Now an English lecturer at the University of Rochester, Smith says President Bush was a man of extraordinary character.
“Honest, kind, a man of great faith," Smith said. "I asked him once what mattered to him as president: was it the power or prerequisites? And he said, 'Not at all, it was faith, family, friends.'”
He says he wasn’t surprised by the news due to the president’s declining health, but also said it was only a matter of time after his wife Barbara passed last year; their marriage of 73 years the longest in presidential history.
“They were as close as any two people I had ever seen," Smith said. "The old expression of one person beginning a sentence and the other finishing it may have been minted for these two.”
He says President Bush was the youngest aviator in the Navy during World War II and returned a war hero. And while he says the modest president never spoke about it, he truly valued his time in the military.
“On his tombstone, he will have simply: I love Barbara. And on the other side he will have the numerals of his Navy dog patch," Smith said. "That’s how much the Navy meant to him.”
Smith says Bush was an inspiring man, the quintessential American.
“The man embodied this nation as well in a personal sense as any president ever has,” Smith said.
And that’s something even those who didn’t personally know him could see too.
“Fly the flags at half mast, and take a moment to consider his life," Linda Peers of Gates said. "And what can I do to make the world a better place, because he did make the world a better place in a lot of ways.”