PGA Pro Raynor remembers friendship with 41st US president

Many people in Southwest Florida remember the special connection the Bush family has here. The 41st president and first lady frequently visited Boca Grande. George H.W. and Barbara Bush impacted the lives of many in the area.

Ken Raynor, PGA golf professional, at Coral Creek Club in Placida said he is living proof of the former president’s legacy.

“He helped groom me into the person I am today,” Raynor said.

The two originally met in Kennebunkport, Maine in the late 1970s, where Raynor was the head golf pro at Cape Arundel Golf Club, and Bush was still considering his first run for U.S. president.

“So, it was a thrill to have him come to the club and want to play golf,” Raynor said. “And he instantly asked me to join him, and that was the start of our friendship. And 40 years later, we’re still doing the same thing.”

Raynor said he later considered Bush to be a second father. The two of them traveled the world together playing golf and fishing. Bush Sr. frequently visited Raynor in Boca Grande, staying at the Gasparilla Inn at the end of the island.

“It was always about the other guy,” Raynor said. “When we played out there, whether he was vice president or president had nothing to do with it. It was always no titles. We never had any titles when we played, or we fished. We’re all on an adventure and loving every minute of it.”

Raynor believes it is the moments that he wasn’t spending time with the former president that will be the special part of George H.W. Bush’s legacy.

But, no matter how busy Bush was, Raynor said he always found the time to reach out to an old friend.

“I used to get notes in the mail all the time,” Raynor said. “Just one sentence or two sentences. ‘On my way for the weekend. Tee it up!’”

Former President George Bush Sr. Will be honored in remembrance at a state funeral at the National Cathedral Wednesday. President Donald Trump will also mark Wednesday as a National Day of Mourning for George H.W. Bush.

Afterward, he will be taken back to Texas for a second funeral Thursday.

“So, if he had time for the other guy, why don’t we?” Raynor said. “And I think it’s a great tribute to him that we all take a moment and maybe make that phone call to a person that we are thinking about that we never reach out to.”

Reporter:Oliver Redsten
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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