George H.W. Bush Served as Witness in Same-Sex Marriage

The community in Kennebunkport, Maine is grieving the loss of George H.W. Bush, a man who was more than a former president, he was a long-time resident and friend.

The 41st president spent nearly every summer of his life at the family compound at Walker's Point, and made many friendships in the small, coastal town.

"He always smiles, always makes you laugh, and he was just kind," Bonnie Clement, co-owner of the HB Provisions general store in downtown Kennebunkport, said.

Shortly after Bonnie and her partner Helen Thorgalsen opened their general store, Barbara and George became loyal customers, and then, dear friends.

"When we were getting ready to get married, he kept asking where his invitation was," Thorgalsen said. "He was happy when he got his invitation."

He also got a special role at their ceremony: signing the marriage certificate as one of the witnesses.

"That was probably a real pivotal point in our life to think that a president came and thought enough of us, that he wanted to be there for our day," Clement said.

In 2013, before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, some saw the former president's presence at their wedding as a political statement. At the time, Bush said he was just being a good friend.

Framed wedding photos with George and Barbara Bush decorate the walls of HB Provisions. It's one of the many memories Clement and Thorgalsen will cherish, as they remember their former president and dear friend.

"I’m sure in the summer when we would normally expect to see him there will be a much greater sense of emptiness without him," Thorgalsen said.

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