CHICAGO — Sam Skinner was the US Attorney for northern Illinois when he first met then-candidate George H.W. Bush in 1980, sparking a relationship that would continue for decades.
Skinner was Illinois campaign chairman 1988, and Bush won the state on his way to the presidency— the last Republican candidate to carry the state. After, he asked Skinner to serve as Secretary of Transportation, and eventually as Chief of Staff in the White House. As an executive, Skinner says his boss was great because he delegated.
"If you asked if one letter in the alphabet he didn't have, it was 'I,'" Skinner said.
Often traveling with the Bush family to Kennebunkport, Skinner remained friends with his boss for 38 years. It was there last summer where he saw the president one final time. Now, Skinner is left to reflect on a friend who meant so much: a war hero, an unflinching leader, a family man, a golf buddy and a humane individual.
"He immediately walked into the room with gravitas," Skinner said. "There was not a mean bone in his body."
Skinner is expected to attend former president Bush's funeral this Wednesday in Washington.