“This is somebody who is not going to slow down anytime soon,” said President Barack Obama about former President George H.W. Bush.
“After he left the White House, he kept going and going and going, in between skydiving and other activities.”
The two commanders in chief were in the East Room to honor the 5,000th recipient of the Daily Point of Light Award, started by Bush in 1989 to salute achievers in volunteerism.
“We discovered that people love to give,” said Kathy Hamilton, of Union, Iowa, who along with her husband, Floyd Hammer, started Outreach, which has distributed 232 million free meals to children in 15 countries, including the U.S.
Bush, 89, was in a wheelchair for the program. His wife, Barbara, sat in the front row with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The current first lady wore a dress with black and white polka dots.
“It’s like coming home for Barbara and me,” Bush said, thanking Obama for his “superb hospitality.”
“Can I sit here?” asked Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a striking azure blue suit, before taking a seat next to her.
“Dad may not be parachuting anymore, but he’s pursuing the life of a style setter,” said the president’s son Neil Bush, referring to his father’s jaunty red-and-white-striped socks.
Neil Bush delivered remarks on behalf of the family as President George Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush were not present.
Neil Bush’s daughter, Lauren Bush Lauren, the model and philanthropist, attended with her husband, David Lauren, a senior vice president at Polo Ralph Lauren.
Other leaders in the business community included Carlyle Group LP co-founder David Rubenstein and Steve Case, the founder of Revolution LLC.
Others spotted were Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, Italian ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican, and basketball player Dikembe Mutombo.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Daniel Akst on books, Martin Gayford on art.