Chicago (CBS) — It was back in August of 1988 – the funeral for Al Mazewski, president of the Polish National Alliance.
Hubert Cioromski remembers that day so clearly because of one very important attendee.
“I’ll never forget being in the funeral home right here on Milwaukee Avenue,” Cioromski said. “And the brigade came in and George Bush came to his wake.”
Cioromski would go on to become a leader in the Polish American community and to meet President George H.W. Bush two times.
“You saw his sincerity,” Cioromski said. “He was with his wife most of the time. His wife was at his side. You saw the bond he had with her. You saw he was a true, good human being.”
The former president visited Chicago multiple times, including a campaign stop in January of 1980 and an appearance in Chicago Heights in November of 1988.
“There is no way any candidate can consider winning the Republican nomination and not at least do credibly in Illinois,” Bush said during his stop in 1980.
The former president and First Lady Barbara Bush visited Chicago for the Taste of Polonia in 1992.
A picture of the two hangs in the Copernicus Center on Chicago’s Northwest Side, where the focus was on the president Saturday.
Nationally known journalist Rita Cosby spoke to a crowd of over a thousand Saturday about her professional and personal connection to the former president.
“He was really the guy who was at the helm when communism fell in Poland,” Cosby said. “He was a quiet hero. He did it quietly, but he was steadfast and he was unwavering.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also remembered the former president Saturday, saying Bush called to congratulate him when he was first elected to Congress. He described George H.W. Bush as a man of humility, dignity and grace.