Local resident’s family recalls fond memories of Bush’s visits to the area

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Former President George H.W. Bush is pictured with (from left) Linda Veliquette, Rachel Veliquette, and a sleeping Charlotte Veliquette Ball in the arms of her dad Gene Veliquette, who passed away in 2015.

REGION – After the passing of former United States President George H. W. Bush last Friday, Nov. 30 at the age of 94, those fortunate enough to meet him over the years took a few moments to recall fond memories.

One of those individuals, Charlotte Veliquette Ball, of Elk Rapids, doesn't actually recall her first meeting with Bush – as she was too young at the time – but can claim that for a few minutes, she was "babysat" by the man who would become "41."

During his first campaign for president in 1979, Bush flew to Mackinac Island for a gathering of loyal Republicans from throughout the country.

As a member of the Grand Traverse County Republican Committee, Elk Rapids resident Gene Veliquette packed up his wife Linda, and two daughters Rachel and Charlotte, and headed for the island, where the family was able to meet and briefly talk with the presidential candidate, who lost that first campaign to Ronald Reagan.

Bush served as vice president under Reagan for the next eight years, and was elected president in 1988.

During that memorable day in 1979 on Mackinac Island, legend has it that her father was chatting alone with Bush while holding baby daughter Charlotte, she recalled last week.

"Then, suddenly, for some reason, he put me in President Bush's arms and left me with him for a few minutes," Ball said. "It's always been a family joke that George Bush babysat me."

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