By Jack Fink

NEW – Former First Lady of the United States Barbara Bush has died at the age of 92. Family spokesperson Jim McGrath released a statement confirming her death Tuesday evening. After a series of hospitalizations, she decided not to seek further medical treatment, a family spokesman said. Read More Here.

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When Robert Caltabiano began on the U.S. Secret Service detail for former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, he says his first day was memorable.

It was in 1997, five years after the First Couple left the White House, and he says Mrs. Bush had trouble pronouncing his last name.

“It was quite comical, and she just decided to say ok, this is Bobby. And that’s what I was called, just Bobby.”

He says the former President and First Lady would take photos of all their Secret Service agents so they could quickly learn their names.

Like so many others, Caltabiano said he was praying for Mrs. Bush and her family after their spokesman announced the 92 year old Bush Matriarch was home receiving comfort care.

Bush was suffering from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, a lung disease that causes long-term coughing and can make it difficult to breathe.

Caltabiano, who was the Special Agent In Charge of Lady Bird Johnson’s protective detail, and was Acting Special Agent In Charge of the Dallas Field Office when he retired, says it is true what so many other people say about Mrs. Bush: She is like everyone’s mom. “We were there to protect her but she was in many ways protecting us. Just by the calmness of who she is.”

He says he’ll never forget the conversation he had with Mrs. Bush when he helped her learn about all the controls on her new car.

They were in a parking lot at the Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University, and Caltabiano says he told her, “This is a beautiful car, I’d like to have a car like this, and I need a new car. And she turns around and says ok, no Bobby, this car is expensive. You have a young child at home and you need to save your money, you need to buy a different type of car than this. That will always stand out with me.”

That motherly advice came in handy Caltabiano says when he was with the former First Lady in China.

He says she was shopping for pearls. “I wanted to buy my mother a set of pearls, so Mrs. Bush picked out a pair that was at a good price because she didn’t want me to spend a lot of money, and so she helped me buy a set of pearls for my mom, who still has them to this day.”

Caltabiano received a new assignment in 2000.

He last saw Mrs. Bush five years ago in Tyler, and she made a request.

“Hey Bobby, come here, let’s take a picture and so Neil her son was with her, he went and took a picture of us. I wish I would have gotten the photo. I never got the photo back. That was special to me because she asked me to take a picture with her and I have her a big hug.”

Follow Jack on Twitter & Facebook: @cbs11jack

Comments (3)
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