The news of President George H.W. Bush’s death broke on the first weekend of Kennebunkport’s “Prelude,” an annual preholiday tradition in the town. In Dock Square, a Christmas tree decorated for the season stood next to a flag at half-staff that hung limply from its pole.
People wandering through the town looked cheerful enough. Many were making annual pilgrimages from out of state to enjoy the small-town charm and decorations and do some shopping. All had heard about the former president’s death.
Brenda Loucks said she cried when she saw the news on her phone Saturday morning. But she, like others, had nothing but praise for the late president.
Susan Richards of Kennebunkport said she’d remember “his kindness. And his generosity.” And Richards pointed out she was a Democrat.
Chuck Papineau of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, said Bush was “representative of a generation,” that set “a lot of good examples.”
Admiration for Bush also reached across the ocean. Richard Eglen moved to the U.S. from England in 1986. But Eglen said, even before moving here, he knew of Bush’s reputation and called him “a man of high integrity, high ethics.”
At the entrance to the Bush family compound at Walker’s Point, a printed sign was posted asking people to place any memorials at a nearby plaque that sits at a spot offering a view of the compound set against the Atlantic Ocean. At that spot Saturday, you could find a couple of roses, a wreath, some beads, a copy of a book about Bush and a Navy cap emblazoned with the aircraft carrier that bears his name.
As for the compound’s large American flag, easily visible from the overlook, it too flew at half mast.
Originally published Dec. 1, 2018 at 1:22 p.m. ET.