Statement from Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen on the passing of President George H.W. Bush

December 5, 2018

WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen released the following statement on the passing of President George H.W. Bush.

“As we pause for a National Day of Mourning today, we send our deepest condolences to the Bush family. We also express our tremendous gratitude for President Bush, for his leadership, his kindness and his lifetime of serving others. 

President George H.W. Bush
In 1985, as vice president, George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara joined then-Peace Corps Director Loret Miller Ruppe on a visit to Mali, where they met with Peace Corps volunteers working on projects in agriculture, energy conservation and rural development. Later, as president, he stated, “The United States Peace Corps built its reputation the old-fashioned way, step by step, village by village, family by family, bringing the world a bit closer one friendship at a time.”

“George Bush was a steadfast friend to the Peace Corps and we will miss him dearly. His close friendship with Peace Corps Director Loret Miller Ruppe during his eight years as vice president made it natural for him to reach to out to volunteers whenever he or First Lady Barbara Bush traveled.

“Based on his earlier visits to Peace Corps volunteers, when the Soviet Union fell, President Bush recognized possibilities for the Peace Corps in that region of the world. In a Rose Garden ceremony in 1990, he celebrated the Americans departing to serve as the first Peace Corps volunteers in Hungary and Poland—60 to each country. At that event, he stated, ‘It is as if the Peace Corps has been in training for this historical moment. It shows our mission, our desire for peace knows no political or geographical bounds.’

“He knew that Peace Corps could offer unique support as no other U.S. Government agency could. Subsequent to that historic ceremony, Peace Corps volunteers have served in 19 countries that were formerly part of the Soviet orbit. 

“President Bush gave us the courage to boldly step forward towards regions of the world with which we now have enduring friendships. Who Peace Corps is today can be drawn in part from this extraordinary person who led our country.”

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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