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‘An Ideal President’: Former Chief of Staff Sam Skinner Remembers George H.W. Bush

Former chief of staff and Chicagoan Sam Skinner says George H.W. Bush didn't have a mean bone in his body, took a sincere interest in everyone he met, and couldn't hold a grudge.

Thirty years after his administration they still talked because, he says, as hard as the job was, the president was fun to be with.

Skinner told NBC 5 Monday he saw Bush as an "older brother, maybe father figure a little bit--but mostly a role model."

"He liked to hire good people and then empowered them," he remembered. "And he wanted to use them effectively."

Skinner, a former U.S. Attorney and secretary of transportation spoke of a relationship with Bush that spanned decades.

"Fist time I met him (was in) Springfield ... in 1980 when he was running," he said.

"He had a great sense of humor too. When he offered me secretary of transportation, he said I want you to do this transportation thing," Skinner recalled. "I said you want me to drive for you? And we laughed."

Throughout the years, Skinner says he always called his friend "Mr. President."

"He's an ideal president in many, many ways." he said. Everybody should look at him as a role model. You should you look to him and if you do't you're making a mistake."

Skinner saw his former boss over the summer, he said.

"I got a chance to be with him and thank him for all he did for me," he said.

He explained how the heroic World War II fighter pilot was pivotal in the American Disabilities Act and an international dispute.

"On the invasion of Kuwait he basically led a world coalition and handled the problem in quick order," Skinner said of Bush. "He had the whole package so to speak."

Bush, who died late Friday at age 94, was a World War II hero, a Texas congressman, the director of the CIA, vice president and eventually president. His son, George W., served as Texas governor and two terms in the White House.

An Indiana soldier is serving in Bush's Honor Guard.

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