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When Vice President George H.W. Bush visited the National Cash Register plant in Columbia, South Carolina in 1984, senior buyer Mark Greeson handed him a business card.
“A lot of my employees laughed at me,” Greeson recalled Tuesday.
Greeson got the last laugh a few days later when a handwritten note on Air Force Two stationery arrived in the mail.
“His handwriting is kind of hard to read,” Greeson said. “But on Sept. 11, 1984, he wrote: ‘Dear Mark, I enjoyed being at NCR today. You passed me your card so I thought I’d drop you this note to say ‘Great Visit, Great People’ Good luck and thanks to you and your coworkers for a memorable day. George Bush.”
What really intrigued Greeson about the letter is the date he wrote it, Sept. 11.
“Seventeen years later, his son, George W. would endure what all Americans endured that fateful day with the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, a plane crash in Pennsylvania,” Greeson said. “This is something that I have always treasured and I just thought I would share it with folks of Wilson and Wilson County and anybody who might be interested.”
George H.W. Bush, who would become the 41st president of the United States, died Nov. 30 at age 94. A state funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington will be held today.
Greeson came to Wilson in 1992 and is now an ATM technician for Loomis Armored. He said Bush liked to write personal letters to people back then.
“Getting this, I feel I have known the man for a while and I only met him for a few minutes,” Greeson said.
At that time of the visit to the NCR plant, Bush was vice president under Ronald Reagan. The occasion was NCR’s 100th anniversary. Bush watched as assembly workers used soldering irons to attach components on printed circuit boards for the mainframe computers being manufactured there.
Bush called the workers “the A-Team” and said what they were building was “the future of the world.”
“We built them like hamburgers,” Greeson said. “We were shipping them out hundreds at a time every day. We had 900 employees. Everybody had a good job.”
When the note came, Greeson framed it with other memorabilia from the visit.
“It touches my heart that he wrote me,” Greeson said. “He actually wrote it aboard the airplane. I think that it is great that he took the time.”
The note has started to fade now all those years later.
“It was real white at the time. It’s got discoloration because of the age now,” Greeson said.
It came in a small envelope with a 20-cent stamp from Washington.
“You can tell it’s typed with a typewriter,” Greeson said. “It’s an antique.”
When the news broke that Bush had passed away, Greeson watched the coverage on TV. His wife asked him if he was tearing up.
“Yes, a little tears are coming by,” Greeson said. “Old George has gone to heaven and he’s deceased now. I mourn for his family, his granddaughters, his sons. I am sure he is in heaven now.”