The late President George H.W. Bush with Sheri Wagner Greenbaum in 2002.
The late President George H.W. Bush with Sheri Wagner Greenbaum in 2002.

Keri Guten Cohen

JN Story Development Editor

In 2002, former Detroiter Sheri Wagner Greenbaum had a personal encounter with the late President George H.W. Bush. She then worked for Star Trax Corporate Events and planned corporate events across the country.

The former president, who was buried Thursday in College Station, Texas, was the guest speaker for an event in Arizona planned for Microsoft. Greenbaum shepherded him around all day.

“We had a really good time; we laughed and joked,” she recalled. “Right before he went on stage, he hit me over the head with his script in a playful way.”

Her now-deceased grandparents, Jean and Theodore Weiss, were living in Southfield and Greenbaum wondered if Bush might call them to say hello.

“While he was on stage, I called my grandparents to make sure they were home,” she said. “They were in their upper 80s at the time. I told my grandfather, ‘Poppa, I’m with former President Bush. Don’t go anywhere!’ In return, he said, ‘Where am I going?’”

Greenbaum, who now lives in Highland Park, Ill., asked Bush if he’d talk with them, and he said, “Dial the phone.”

“Grandma answered,” Greenbaum recalled. “She said Poppa was asleep. I told her to wake him up!”

Bush got on the phone and Greenbaum picked up that they were talking about the weather — snow in Southfield; sunshine in Arizona. He then talked to Greenbaum’s grandmother for a bit.

“He couldn’t have been more gracious,” Greenbaum said. “He was such a nice man. I called my mom [Dottie Wagner] back in Detroit and asked her to call Momma and Poppa. Grandma said, ‘He was a very nice man, but I still didn’t vote for him.’”