When Maine paramedic Josh Grzyb told George H.W. Bush he wanted to go to medical school, the former president promised to help in any way he could – including writing him a letter of recommendation.
Because of that letter, Grzyb said he was accepted to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science on Thursday, the day before the 41st president died at the age of 94.
Grzyb worked for the Bush family at their Kennebunkport, Maine, home as part of a small team assisting with medical aid and daily living assistance from 2015 to 2017. His duties ranged from administering medication to helping the former president pick out the eclectic socks he was fond of wearing.
During that time, Grzyb, who lost his grandparents at a young age, became close to the Bush family, including some of the children and extended family members.
“Although I worked with President Bush and Barbara Bush, even though I was an employee for them, I still felt like they were the grandparents I never had,” Grzyb told Fox News, adding the couple was “always inquisitive about my life, my relationships and my career.”
Grzyb, who also works as a firefighter and police officer in the area, said he cherishes the times he was able to sit down across the table from Bush as they ate lunch together.
Last year, Grzyb told Bush he hoped to someday go to medical school and become a physician’s assistant and asked if he would be willing to write a letter of recommendation.
“Without hesitation or question thereof, he wanted to see my dream come true, and he wanted to do anything to help in that process,” Grzyb said.
In the letter, which Grzyb provided to Fox News, the president praised the paramedic for his “bedside manner, caring nature and work ethic.”
“Josh has spent his adult life dedicated to public service,” Bush said. “Both Barbara and I have spent a lot of time with Josh, and we think very highly of him. We recommend him without reservation to your medical school. We know he will make a wonderful physician.”
Grzyb found out he was accepted on Thursday – but didn’t get a chance to tell Bush before he died. He said he wished he could have had the opportunity to thank him for his support.
“Although I worked with President Bush and Barbara Bush, even though I was an employee for them, I still felt like they were the grandparents I never had.”
“It was truly an honor and inspiration to work for such a humble man with such reverence and respect,” Grzyb said. “He was a giving, compassionate man, always going out of his way to make a difference, make people laugh no matter how bad he felt.”
“I just want to say thank you for all his years of service – what he’s done for our country, what he’s done for me,” Grzyb added.
Bush’s casket was flown on Air Force One Monday from Texas to Washington, D.C. He will lie in state at the Capitol rotunda until Wednesday when he will be remembered at a funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral.
Bush will then be taken back to Texas for another service to be buried at the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University. His final resting place will be alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years who died in April, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukemia in 1953 at age 3.
Grzyb said he was invited to attend a send-off at the Andrews Air Force Base later this week. He plans to make the trip and say goodbye to his boss one last time.