For years, when President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush showed up to a party, they caused a stir…and an uptick in funds raised. Even the most poised social swans would swivel their necks to catch a peek.
Such was the power of the Bushes.
With last week’s passing of George, only seven months after his beloved wife Barbara died in April, Houstonians are mourning the loss of the Bushes in waves. There has been a ripple effect through the political sphere, the literacy community and cheeky-sock aficionados. But perhaps none will feel their void as deeply as the philanthropic community.
The Bushes were wealthy, certainly. But with an estimated net worth in the $25 million range, they’re not ultra-rich, like some of Houston’s heavy hitters in the philanthropy scene. Not middle class, but not write-checks-first, ask-questions-later, either.
As a result, much of the Bushes’ contributions to Houston’s first-rate charity scene relied on their presence as a magnet to other donors. They knew this. And they made it a key component of their strategy to help advance as many causes as possible.