President George H. W. Bush recently celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane. Former Congressman Marty Russo reminiscences about some fun times they had in the sports arena.
Seeing the Politico article about President George H. W. Bush skydiving on his 90th birthday reminds me of what a great competitor he has always been.
Some of my fondest personal memories in Congress were those days when I served as the regular paddle ball partner for President George H. W. Bush. We played as a team in the House paddle ball courts for all eight years he was Vice President and continued for the four years of his presidency. I can tell you that he always played to win.
This reminds me of a photo taken by the official White House photographer in 1984 when I was flying on Air Force Two. The Vice President and I were relaxing and next thing I know, the VP asked me to give him a putting lesson in the aisle of the airplane. He was always looking to gain a competitive edge and took any opportunity to hone his game.
This scene was memorialized a couple years ago in a USA Today article titled, Golf, Politics and Presidents Prove To Be Range Bedfellows, by Steve DiMeglio. It’s a great story of how presidents and golf intersect and ends with a quote from a good friend of mine, Republican Senator Mike Oxley. In the article Senator Oxley is talking about how sports enabled a lot of bi-partisanship in the Congress:
At the very least, golf provides memories. One of Oxley’s favorites occurred on Air Force Two, when he was traveling with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Marty Russo, one of the best golfers ever to be a member of Congress.
“The VP was moaning and groaning about his putting. So one of the Secret Service guys went down into the hole and got his putter,” Oxley says. “There we were on the plane and he’s getting a putting lesson from Russo.
“It was a great moment of bipartisanship.”