Boys' Choir of Tallahassee shares memories of meeting President George H.W. Bush

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 4, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The recent death of 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush is bringing up memories for members of the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee.

The choir got to meet President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush at the Florida Capitol.

The Boys' Choir of Tallahassee gave a grand welcome for Jeb Bush's first term as Florida's governor in 1999, as the choir sang, "Jeb Bush is a Man's Best Friend."

In 2003, as the choir waited in a holding room before performing at Bush's second inauguration, President George H.W. Bush walked in.

"I was like, 'oh my gosh,'" said Dr. Earle Lee, the director of the Boys' Choir.

Lee says First Lady Bush sat down on the floor with the boys in the choir and shared stories with them. He was impressed by how she had their full attention.

He says President Bush shook everyone's hand and took pictures with them.

He says President Bush then asked the big question.

"He said, 'What do you guys need?' I said, 'Sir, we need money.' He said, 'Jeb, why don't these boys have money?' He said, 'Get these kids some money.' A week later, Governor Bush held a reception at the Governor's Mansion, invited his closest friends and we became $80,000 richer," Dr. Lee shared.

Choir members say the true value was in the experience of being there. Brad Johnson was around 15 years old at the time. He remembers the double doors swinging open and the Bush family walking in that day.

"All of us young people just rushed over and they all embraced us. Being young people who knew who they were watching TV, we were like, 'that's President Bush, that's First Lady Barbara Bush.' The fact that they took the time to be with us is something that really made us feel special," Johnson said.

Johnson says choir member James Davis, who was always outgoing, was the first to rush over to the Bushes. Davis recently posted pictures of him with President Bush and First Lady Bush from that day on social media. He wrote, "It was truly an experience, privilege and honor, I will never forget!"

In that post, he talked about how President Bush complimented his cowboy boots. He says Bush then showed the boys the boots he was wearing, which had the presidential emblem on them.

Davis and Johnson both recall everyone getting excited at that point. Davis says he got to try President Bush's boots on.

"It all culminated to a memory that is just hard to get out of your mind. But more importantly, it molds and shapes you in the future and you're just glad that you experienced it," Johnson said.

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