Local musician recounts meeting former President Bush
PARKERSBURG – A local musician turned entertainment promoter remembers meeting the late President George H.W. Bush at a gig in Ohio.
Chuck Lipps, then with The Breeze, performed during an event that featured the former president on July 18, 1994 in Mayfield Heights.
“He really liked country music,” Lipps, vice president of RMA Associates, said.
Bush and country singer Larry Gatlin were friends and Gatlin sang a couple songs with The Breeze, Lipps said.
“He and Larry Gatlin were really good friends, too,” Lipps said. “He was a big country music fan. Bush also liked Randy Travis, too.”
The former president was going to go on stage while the band also was on stage, Lipps said.
“The Secret Service said once we were on stage, don’t move,” he said.
The band asked if it could meet with Bush if there was a chance and the agents said they would try to arrange it if possible, Lipps said.
Bush was more than happy to pose with the band, Lipps said.
Bush attended a private birthday party fundraiser for then Gov. George Voinovich, Lipps said. Gatlin sang “Broken Lady” and “All The Gold In California” with the band, he said.
“A very rare historical moment for anyone to meet a president, a governor and a country music star all in one place,” Lipps said. “We presented the president with an autographed photo and our CD. What a surprise to receive a handwritten note a week later thanking us. For him to take the time to do that says how much he cared about people.”
Lipps said he cherishes the letter.
“Dear Breeze,” Bush said in the hand-written letter.
“Thanks for my signed photo – even more for the great music,” he said. “Larry Gatlin was right. You guys are terrific. Good Luck.”
The letter was signed George Bush.
Bush died Friday night at age 94. Bush has lied in state at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where a state funeral is planned today. A national day of mourning has been declared.
Years later in 2005, Lipps said, he got a call from the White House and was asked if he could arrange entertainment at West Virginia University at Parkersburg where Bush’s son, George W. Bush, was appearing. The son was president of the United States.
“I got ShhBang to perform for 20 minutes prior to the event at WVU-P,” Lipps said.
Lipps and artist Tom Stahl of the Veterans Gallery in Little Hocking were raised in Little Hocking and graduated from Warren High School. Stahl forged a friendship with the late president through his artwork, which included a painting of the USS San Jacinto, the aircraft carrier Bush served on during World War II and the more than 120 paintings he did of Bush’s service during the war.
“What are the odds of two people from the same small town getting to meet a president through the arts of painting and music?” Lipps said. “That is such an honor.”