Former President George H.W. Bush paid a thoughtful tribute to his late wife, Barbara Bush, during her private funeral on Saturday – by opting for book-themed socks provided by a young entrepreneur with Down syndrome.
The 41st President opted for the knitted stacks of blue, red and yellow books during the ceremony in Houston as a nod to the former First Lady’s family literacy campaigns.
Bush, who is known for his love of colorful socks, ordered the pair from 22-year-old John Cronin, who lives in Huntington in New York.
George H.W. Bush opted for the knitted stacks of blue, red and yellow books (pictured) during Saturday’s funeral in Houston as a nod to the former First Lady’s family literacy campaigns
Bush, who is known for his love of colorful socks, ordered the pair from 22-year-old John Cronin, from Huntington in New York (left, undated). Pictured right: Barbara Bush in February 2016 at a campaign event for Jeb Bush in Greenville, South Carolina
Cronin runs John’s Crazy Socks with his father, Mark, and gifted the wacky ensemble to Bush after his office requested a pair last week especially for the funeral.
‘It made me feel sad and I cried because he lost his wife,’ John told CBS News.
‘But it made me feel good, too, because I wanted the socks to make President Bush feel better. I wanted the socks to make him happy.’
John’s company sells more than 1,900 types of ‘colorful and fun’ socks and donates five per cent of its profits to the Special Olympics.
Cronin runs John’s Crazy Socks with his father, Mark, and had the wacky ensemble delivered to Bush after his office requested a pair last week especially for the funeral
The specific pair Bush wore are called ‘Library for Literacy’, with all profits going to the Barbara Bush Foundation.
Bush first discovered John’s socks after the young entrepreneur sent him a pair last year – and has remained a loyal customer.
About 1,500 people attended Saturday’s private funeral in Houston, Texas, to pay their respects to the much-loved matriarch.
Mourners included First Lady Melania Trump, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.
Family spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted a photo of the former president’s attire and explained: ‘To honor his wife of 73 years and her commitment to family literacy, for which she raised over $110 million over the course of over 30 years, will be wearing a pair of socks festooned with books at today’s funeral service for former First Lady Barbara Bush.’
Barbara Bush was adamant that teaching people to read could help decrease the other major problems.
‘After much thought, I realized everything I worried about would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend,’ she wrote in her 1994 autobiography, ‘Barbara Bush: A Memoir.’
Bush seen wearing the colorful socks during Saturday’s funeral at St Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston
John’s company sells more than 1,900 types of ‘colorful and fun’ socks (including these ones, pictured, and donates five per cent of its profits to the Special Olympics
It would be another decade before Bush became first lady, but, in the interval, she was active in literacy programs.
In March 1989, mere weeks into her husband’s presidency, she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
The foundation’s programs include classes to help teenage mothers who left high school earn GED diplomas in Georgia, and teaching non-English speakers in Alabama.
One in four American adults can’t read above a fifth-grade level, the foundation says.
A 2003 study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that nearly 15 percent of Americans lacked basic reading and comprehension skills. It took more than a decade to compile, though, and hasn’t been repeated.
Barbara’s Bush’s casket sits near her husband inside St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston
Bush remained active with the foundation until as recently as two months ago, participating via video chat at one of its reading events.
Her daughter, Doro Bush Koch, is now the foundation’s honorary chairwoman, and it is based in Tallahassee, where her son, Jeb, lived as Florida governor from 1999 until 2007.
Bush also wrote two books about her dogs’ lives, 1984’s ‘C. Fred’s Story’ and ‘Millie’s Book,’ in 1990, and donated the proceeds to family literacy programs.
In 2013, her son Neil, and his wife Maria, created the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, which promotes literacy among people of all ages in the country’s fourth-largest city.
Laura Bush, who was first lady while Barbara’s son George W. was president, told Fox Business Network on Wednesday that her mother-in-law believed ‘if everyone could read and write, a lot of problems would be solved.’
Melania Trump with the last four presidents and first ladies as they support former president George H.W. Bush at his wife’s funeral on Saturday