President George H.W. Bush had been defeated in his bid for reelection. Bill Clinton was about to be inaugurated, and it was time for Bush to leave the Oval Office.

But before departing, he left behind a note for Clinton — a tradition for departing presidents. Bush’s words are being remembered for his heart-felt graciousness to his successor, despite whatever disappointment he may have felt.

Bush died in Houston on Friday at 94. He was president for one term, from 1989 to 1993, losing to Clinton in the 1992 election. Bush also served as a military veteran, vice president, and diplomat.


In a statement about Bush, Clinton said, “I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood.”

Clinton continued in the statement: “He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina. His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display.

“I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts.”

Here is the letter Bush left for Clinton in the Oval Office: