Bush granddaughter discusses her new book with island crowd

February 1, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

■ BY SUE ERWIN
Islanders packed the Boca Grande Community Center on Thursday, January 24 to hear two gracious and amusing women speak about a couple that is near and dear to the heart of Boca Grande.
Ellie LeBlond Sosa, granddaughter of George and Barbara Bush, and her mother, Doro Bush Koch, held an interactive discussion about Ellie’s recently published book: “George and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story.”
The book was published in June of 2018.
Seeing her grandparents together – the genuine love they had for one another – is what inspired her to write it.
“My memories of them together will always include laughter and holding hands,” Sosa said. “They were holding hands until my grandmother’s last day on Earth.”
And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
“Several members of our family read it to my grandfather over the last few months of his life,” she said. “It was very special.”
Ellie and Doro presented an interview-style talk on the stage, sharing many funny stories about everyday life with the Bush kin, making it sound like they were just an ordinary American family.
“My grandmother kept everything,” Sosa said. “She had letters from my grandfather from when they met, as well as one he wrote to her after a half-century of marriage.”
Sosa had asked for the secret to Barbara and President George H. W. Bush’s 77-year love affair that withstood World War II separation, a leap of faith into the oil fields of West Texas, the painful loss of a child, a political climb to the highest office, and, after the White House, the transition back to “normal” life.
“To begin with I was in love and I am in love, so that’s not hard,” Barbara Bush told her granddaughter on her porch in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Sosa recalls a story her uncle Jeb told at Barbara’s funeral about her grandfather faking an illness when Barbara was in the hospital, just so he could stay in the room next to her.
“One day he was rolled in to sit with her. He had his oxygen mask on his face, and his hair was not combed like it usually was,” Sosa said. “He was a bit disheveled. She looked at the nurse in the room and said something like ‘Isn’t he just so handsome?’ They were lovebirds even at 92 and 93.”
Sosa co-authored the book with Kelly Anne Chase.
“We were so lucky to be able to interview my grandmother a few times throughout the writing process, so her voice is present throughout the book,” she said. “We interviewed other family and friends as well, but maybe the greatest gift was being able to have special access to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library archives. This is where they preserve all of the letters, diary entries, photos, videos and newspaper clippings from their life together. We were able to use those letters, diary entries and photos in the book, which makes it really special.”
During the research, Ellie found a scrapbook that had envelope, and it was protruding a bit. “We could tell there was something in it,” she said. “We opened it up, and inside was a wishbone from my grandparents’ first Thanksgiving turkey together. This was when my grandfather was at Yale and my Uncle George W. was just a young boy – about 70 years ago.”
A reception followed the discussion, and the author signed copies of her books and spoke with guests in the Woman’s Club room.
The book is available on Amazon.