COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service recognizes an individual or group's dedication to public service at the local, state and national, or international levels.
President George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, once said “Public service is a noble calling; worth doing and worth trying to succeed in.”
The award underscores President Bush’s long service and commitment to Public Service. Wednesday, at the age of 91-years-old, James A. Baker III Former White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of State, accepted the honorable award.
“It is a real honor for me to receive this award named after one of the greatest leaders of our lifetime," said Baker.
Baker is the 12th individual to receive the award since 2000. He was on the list of remarkable individuals such as Helmut Kohl, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Edward M. Kennedy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Reverend Billy Graham, Robert M. Gates, Ronald W. Reagan, Her Highness Sheikha Moza, Robert J. Dole, Brian Mulroney, and John Major.
"There are very few people that have all four of those; that understood politics, that understood policy, that understood people, and understood power and how to get things done. Jim Baker has all of those qualities," said Former Vice President Dan Quayle.
James Baker served as U.S. Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff under President Bush, but their friendship went beyond the walls of the Oval Office.
“On the clay courts of Houston George Bush discovers a doubles partner in James Baker. An instant decision, given he was listed as the men's singles champion in 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961. A friendship on and off the court for 60 years. A friendship destined to lead full lives through honorable public service.”
“You know he used to say you need to get off the bench and get in the game and get your uniform dirty,” said Baker.
Among his many accomplishments, James Baker had a hand in facilitating the end of the Cold War and built a historical international coalition of 35 countries during the Gulf War. But as he accepted his award of excellence in public service, he thanked his dear friend.
“Heffy [President Bush] I know you are looking down on us tonight and I want to thank you," said Baker. "I want to thank you for allowing me to take that wonderful ride with you through history. And as you always used to say, ‘Bake, who’d a thunk it?’ Indeed, who’d a thunk it!”
Baker was with President Bush in his final moments before he passed away on November 30, 2018, in their hometown of Houston.