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George H.W. Bush had been the benefactor of a child named Timothy for nearly two decades through Compassion International

By Karen Mizoguchi
December 20, 2018 06:45 PM
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Jenna Bush Hager George H. W. BushCredit: Jenna Bush Hager/Instagram
Jenna Bush Hager with her late grandfather, President George H. W. Bush
| Credit: Jenna Bush Hager/Instagram

Jenna Bush Hager discovered her late grandfather George H.W. Bush secretly sponsored a Filipino boy with the rest of the public.

During Thursday’s Today show broadcast, the mother of two shared her reaction to the news that the former president, who died on Nov. 30 at age 94, had been the benefactor of a child named Timothy for nearly two decades through Compassion International.

“No one [knew], I mean, I didn’t know about it,” Bush Hager, 37, told co-hosts Al Roker, Carson Daly and Kier Simmons. “You know, one of the things that I really loved about him was his humility. His mom would always say, ‘Don’t use the I word, talk about what others do.’ So he never told me this.”

The grieving granddaughter added, “Reading these letters yesterday, I mean, I miss him, but also this is the reason why I miss him. Because he didn’t need to brag about it and he didn’t do it for press attention.”

The Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas, America - 26 Apr 2011
Credit: Ian Bradshaw/REX/Shutterstock

During their years-long exchange, Bush developed a rapport with Timothy, even sending doodled pictures and art supplies. ”He really threw himself into it,” Wess Stafford, Compassion International’s president emeritus, recently told The Gazette. “He would write to little Timothy and Timothy would write to him, and anything that Timothy said that was interesting, President Bush would write right back with a comment on it.”

Bush Hager reflected on her grandfather’s act of kindness, saying, “Watching these people before do these quiet acts is something I want to pass onto my kids.”

Though Bush Hager didn’t know how exactly her grandfather’s letters came to light, she did rave about her Gampy’s “great” letter writing.

Re-reading a letter from March 9, 2003, that she and sister Barbara received, Bush Hager laughed as she recalled how her grandfather once worried about the siblings spending their spring break “trying to get on the wild college women TV show.” Instead, he advised them to pass the holiday by reading books at their local library.

Bush Hager also fought back tears as she read the last part of the letter. “In spite of these worries, maybe because of these worries, I love you guys. Who says the Gampster can’t be with it,” the loving message concluded.