Shelby's Social Diary
Bush 41 and Bush 43 share the spotlight at Barbara Bush literacy event thatraises $2 million
It was a rare public moment that found both former President George H.W. Bush and former President George W. Bush on stage together at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday night. Not surprising, the compelling occasion was a Celebration of Reading, benefiting Barbara Bush literacy programs.
Forty-one had come to lend his customary support and 43 had come as an author reading brief excerpts from his book, Decision Points.
The annual fundraiser for literacy programs was significant in another way. With only minutes to go before the end of the evening, an anonymous donor stepped forward to pledge the additional $29,000 that would take the evening's proceeds to the $2 million mark. Since its founding in 1989, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has raised more than $40 million for programs in Texas and across the country.
A record crowd of 2,012 packed the Hobby Center to hear author readings, not only from 43, but also from Lester Smith (You Gotta Dance Like No One's Watching),Scott Turow (Innocent), Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton (Picking Cotton) and Susan Baker (Passing It On: An Autobiography With Spirit), who filled in for an ailing Sara Gruen. Smith stole the show with the hilarious recounting of his battle with doughnut addiction combined with his philosophy of paying it forward.
The authors were introduced by Bush grandchildren — Jeb Bush with wife Sandra, George P. Bush, Pierce Bush and Marshall Bush — emphasizing in the words of Barbara Bush the all-inclusive family nature of literacy.
The evening began with all three "George Bushes" on stage together, the senior Bush arriving via motorized cart and all three Georges humorously riding off together.
Special guest on the program was bilingual speech language pathologist Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan of Brownsville, who spoke on the transformation of the Brownsville student population thanks to an innovative reading program.
Long-time supporters heading up the committee included committee chairs Linda and Archie Dunham plus Shahla and Hushang Ansary, Susan and James A. Baker III, Ginger and Jack Blanton, Neil and Maria Bush, Janice and Bob McNair, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Tassie Nicandros and Betty and John Hrncir.