KENNEBUNKPORT (NEWS CENTER Maine) – After the news of First Lady Barbara Bush’s declining health, neighbors in her Maine summer hometown are sending their prayers.
The Bushes are more than political celebrities in Kennebunkport. Their down-to-earth nature makes Mr. and Mrs. Bush feel like friends to many local business owners, hotel staff, waiters, and waitresses.
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Monday’s gray skies and pouring rain were reflective of a somber Kennebunkport, with locals imagining what a summer will be like without the brightness and warmth of First Lady Barbara Bush.
“Just empty,” said Tina Hewett-Gordon, the General Manager of the Nonantum Resort. “They’re a family that is so accessible, and is part of the thread of our community.”
Hewett-Gordon has been the General Manager of the resort for more than 25 years. She says the two most common questions are “Where’s Walker’s Point?” and “Where’s the beach?”
Kennebunkport tourism is synonymous with the Bush family. “Gracious, admirable, amazing,” is how Hewett-Gordon describes Mrs. Bush. “She’s the woman who I think all women should aspire to be, of just grace and loveliness.”
“Grace” is a defining trait of Mrs. Bush, according Steve Pulos, the General Manager of “On the Marsh.” Mrs. Bush and her family have been regulars for several summers.
At one point, Pulos says, Mrs. Bush took the time to introduce herself to every person at the restaurant – guests and wait staff. “She could see that they were interested in what was going on in the other room,” he explained.
You can usually find Mrs. Bush at her favorite table, nestled away in the corner, enjoying lamb or haddock. Over her head hangs a quote that Pulos says she was inspired by. “It is around the table that the warmth of being together,” it reads.
The idea of an empty chair at her signature table this summer is something the staff doesn’t want to face. “It’s obviously very said for all of us,” Pulos said.
“To think that she is not going to be here is a really sad thought, but knowing the mark that she has left in such a positive direction and how she has impacted so many people’s lives so just so astounding,” Tina Hewett-Gordon said.