Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-05-03

Historians will write that her dad was a great president, says Doro Bush Koch, daughter of former president George H. W. Bush and author of My Father, My President.

"I wrote the book to tell you he was a great human being," said Koch, speaking to the spring luncheon of the Samford University Auxiliary Wednesday, May 2.

"It was my job to capture the side of his life as a historical figure and public servant, and his personal side, also," she said, adding that trying to write about her father's life is like "taking a sip from a fire hose."

"He's done too much, met too many people for me to tell the whole story," she said of the nation's 41st president, noting that he still stays so busy that he is "giving retirement a really bad name."

Her 82-year-old dad is proof that life doesn't end when a person reaches their 70s and 80s, she said.

Koch shared anecdotes of his life and excerpts from her book with 420 Auxiliary members, guests and scholarship students at the luncheon.

Her father, she says, is an "email junkie" who types away on his BlackBerry while sitting with her mother, Barbara, in the stands at televised Houston Astros baseball games. "I will email him to wave after the next strike. He will wave and then my mother will wave, too."

"The point is that he always seems to have a new idea," she said, adding that it was his suggestion that she write the book, which she spent two years researching, writing and re-writing.

His life has had mountain tops and valleys, twists and turns along the way, such as when as a young Navy pilot his plane was shot down during World War II, when he lost political campaigns and when he lost a child--her sister Robin of leukemia at age four.

"He handled the good and the bad times with grace. You live life and take advantage of every moment of it," said Koch, who holds a unique place in history as the daughter and sister of living U.S. presidents.

During her brief visit, Koch took time to meet about 60 Auxiliary patrons who had pre-purchased specially autographed copies of the book.

The annual luncheon highlights the Auxiliary's scholarship program, which has grown from one $300 scholarship in 1986 to 30 $1,500 scholarships totaling $45,000 in 2006.

Luncheon goers were introduced to seven of this year's recipients, including Jason Skelley, a junior biology major from Jacksonville, Fla.., who spoke on behalf of his fellow scholars.

"I probably wouldn't be at Samford if not for your scholarship," said Skelley, who hopes to pursue a career in medical missions. He noted the late biology professor Dr. Ron Jenkins' meaningful ways of teaching and encouraging students.

"It is a quality unique to Samford," he said of that special teacher/student relationship. "At most schools, you can't get to know professors like that."

Luncheon guests were welcomed by Auxiliary president Alta Faye Fenton and Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland. Program participants also included Auxiliary executive director Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland and coordinator Elouise Williams.

The Alabama Booksmith was a presenting sponsor for the luncheon.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.