Former President George H.W. Bush was no stranger to Bismarck or North Dakota. He visited the state before and during his presidency.
His most notable visit to Bismarck came on April 24, 1989, when he planted a 12-foot elm tree from the White House lawn on the Capitol grounds to help celebrate the state’s centennial. An estimated 10,000 North Dakotans came out to greet the president. Lindsy Tschider, an 8-year-old student from Northridge Elementary School, was singled out from her classmates by Bush to help him plant the tree. He marveled to the media about her “deep brown eyes.”
It was later disclosed that gypsy moths had been discovered on the tree when it was delivered to Bismarck. The moths were destroyed and tree was treated and the future looked bright. However, the tree couldn’t endure North Dakota’s harsh winter and was dug up in September 1990.
While vice president, Bush visited Bismarck on Oct. 3, 1982, for a GOP luncheon. He came to give state Republican candidates a boost and praise the accomplishments of President Ronald Reagan’s administration. In 1985 Vice President Bush campaigned for Mark Andrews in Fargo.
Bush’s wife, Barbara, campaigned for him in Fargo during his presidential race in 1988. Their son, Neil, came to Bismarck to stump for his father’s presidential bid that year.
There may have been more visits to Bismarck by Bush during his career, but the Tribune didn’t find a record of any other visits in our files. Still, Bush’s visit in 1989 during the state’s centennial left a big impression on North Dakotans.
Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., issued statements of condolences on the death of the former president. Burgum announced flags would be at half staff according to law.