JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Scheduling prevented Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray from making it to Wednesday’s service for George H.W. Bush. Still, he watched and fondly remembered a man he’d come to know well through the years.
“He was really just a good guy,' described Ray. "He was like a grandfather figure to the team, the people who were around him. You really felt like you were a part of the family.”
Ray first started doing advance work, traveling and setting up events, while Bush was Vice President and running for President. He stayed with the team post-election.
“I served at the White House 89-1993 through his four years there," said Ray. "Official title is lead advance representative.”
Ray traveled around the states and abroad in the role, leaving ahead of the president and getting logistics in place, be it for a fundraiser, visit back to Texas, or meeting with world leaders.
Time talking or even any photos, for that matter, were always timed out during those White House years, but Ray’s service to Bush 41 didn’t end when he left office. He continued being called for advance work after that, including a trip to Hong Kong.
“To be there with him," Ray said. "There were only like two secret service agents and myself and one other staff person and to be there with him for two full days to just spend quality time and reminisce about the service, the campaign, the years at the White House.”
It’s the photos and items like the letter that Bush sent to him after he helped with the opening of his Presidential library that Ray now holds particularly dear.
“When you were with him, you felt like you had known him your whole life,” added Ray of the elder Bush.
Ray later worked on the White House advance team for George W. Bush, as well.