Why Was George H.W. Bush Called Poppy Bush?

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Getty George H.W. Bush, known as "Poppy Bush."

Former President George H.W. Bush died on November 30, 2018 at the age of 94. Many news stories and people have referred to Bush in tributes as “Poppy Bush.”

When he died, Bush was the oldest president in United States history, followed closely behind by Jimmy Carter, who was born a few months after Bush. How did the former president obtain his nickname? Why was George H.W. Bush called “Poppy Bush”?

Here’s what you need to know:

The Nickname Was a Family Tradition

Prescott and Dorothy Bush

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum Audiovisual ArchivePrescott and Dorothy Bush are pictured above. Prescott Bush, the father of George H.W. Bush, was born in 1895 and died in 1972. He worked as an executive banker on Wall Street and then served on the U.S. Senate representing Connecticut from 1952 to 1963.

The book George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin has a chapter titled “Poppy and Mommy.” It reveals that Dorothy Walker Bush, the mother of George H.W. Bush, started calling her son “Poppy.” Bush has been called the nickname since he was a young boy.

“George was named after his grandfather, George Herbert Walker. Since George’s mother called Grandfather Walker ‘Pop,’ she began calling her son, his namesake, ‘little Pop,’ or ‘Poppy’ Hence, Poppy Bush is the name the President’s family friends have called him since his youth,” the book says.

Bush was a toddler when his mother gave him the name, The New York Times reports.

Bush Didn’t Like Being Called Poppy Bush

George H.W. Bush, George H.W. Bush president, George H.W. Bush press conference

George Bush speaks on July 23rd, 1990.

The Associated Press imparts a similar story about how Bush received his nickname but reveals that he didn’t like being called it.

The AP quotes Bush’s wife, Barbara, as saying in her memoir that George Bush “hated” the nickname as he got older, “but it was hard to break such a long-standing habit.” However, he did like being called “Gampy” by his grandchildren, according to AP.

George H.W. Bush was born on June 12, 1924. He was one of five siblings and was born in Milton, Massachusetts, which is near Boston. He was the 41st president of the United States, and the father of a president. He was also vice president, a World War II veteran, the director of the CIA, and other positions.

George H.W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush released a statement on the evening of November 30, 2018 after news of George H.W. Bush’s death broke. It read: “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.” The statement was released by Jim McGrath, the Bush family spokesman.

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