BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It was the spring of 1990 when President George Herbert Walker Bush made one of his visits to Birmingham.
Riding in the presidential motorcade with him was the then president of Birmingham Southern College, Dr. Neal Berte, and his wife.
“And I put my hand on the door handle and the Secret Service said sir we’ll open the door for you. And obviously my wife has been kidding me for years about my finger prints being on the president’s limousine," said Berte laughing.
However, once inside the car, Berte said the president put him at ease.
“You felt like you were really talking to him. You were talking to the man down the street. A guy who was just a nice neighbor,” he said.
Once on Campus, Bush presented a National Points of Light award to the BSC’s conservancy, the organization that launched the Southern Environment Center.
Rolad Hazelhoff was the center's director then and still is today.
“All I could say was welcome Mr. President,” said Hazelhoff.
Being star struck is not the only thing the two men remember about Bush.
“He was a real people’s person. You know when he came out of that limousine you thought this was just going to be a photo and gone, but he spent time talking to people,” said Hazelhoff.
“We’ve lost a real leader. Personified “servant leadership,” lifted up the importance of volunteerism. Not just for government, but volunteerism in your community, your profession, your church, being servant leaders,” said Berte.