LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Many local people are reacting to Wednesday's funeral of President George H.W. Bush.

Bernie Sweeney, who lives in Longmeadow, worked on the president's campaign in western Massachusetts.

Sweeney said his friendship with President Bush goes back many years.

As he watched the funeral today, Sweeney couldn't help but remember the years they spent together and the legacy, he said, he will leave behind.

"I can't imagine talking about your dad at a funeral," Sweeney said.

Sweeney watched the funeral of President Bush and said their friendship began when he picked Bush up from Bradley Airport after meeting his daughter, Dorothy, in 1976.

President Bush was headed to MassMutual.

"I went down there and I had a sign that said Mr. Busch, that's how naive I was, and these people are coming out of the doors saying yes, yeah that's him. Then I see Mr. Bush coming through with his suit over his shoulder and I thought oh my God and I took the sign and threw it behind a soda machine," Sweeney explained.

Sweeney noted that from time to time, he would drive President Bush places when he visited New England and then one day, got a call from a friend.

"I understand you've been driving Bush. I said yes. He said we want to put a campaign together in Massachusetts, so I became one of the first group that signed up for George Bush's 1980 presidential campaign. I ran the campaign here in western Massachusetts. He led by example and he was a true leader and a true friend and he expected you to conduct yourself at the highest standard and morals," Sweeney added.

Sweenet said this is a story that will always stick with him, from one of President Bush's former Secret Service agents.

"When George Bush was sworn in as the vice president, he was driving the president and Mrs. Bush from the Capitol and Bush turned to Barbara and kind of hit her on the shoulder and said I told ya I was going to take you places babe...and that was him," Sweeney noted.

We're told many other local leaders were in Washington for the funeral, including Bruce Stebbins, a Massachusetts gaming commissioner, who used to work in the Bush White House.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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