A former U.S. president returned to his summer home in Kennebunkport this week and shaved his head.
George H.W. Bush, the nation’s 41st president, did not decide to go bald for style or even for comfort.
His spokesman, Jim McGrath, said the 89-year-old Bush went under the razor to show his support for the 2-year-old son of a Secret Service agent assigned to his security detail at the Bush family compound on Walker’s Point.
The boy, known only as Patrick, was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. The toddler is undergoing cancer treatments and started losing his hair earlier this month, McGrath said.
Patrick’s situation hit close to home for Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993. Bush and his wife, Barbara, lost their second child, a 3-year-old daughter named Robin, to leukemia 60 years ago this October, McGrath said.
When Bush arrived at Walker’s Point this week, he saw that nearly all the members of his security detail had shaved their heads to show solidarity for Patrick and his father, Jon — the boy’s family has asked that their surname not be mentioned.
So on Tuesday, Bush authorized one of his Secret Service agents to shave his head, according to McGrath.
The results became public Wednesday after McGrath sent out a brief news release with photographs of Bush and his new haircut, sitting in a wheelchair and holding Patrick on his lap.
“It has been gathering momentum and we hope it continues,” McGrath said in a telephone interview. “Everyone has nominated this for the story of the week. The public’s reaction has been very positive.”
Members of Bush’s security detail have also launched a new website in an effort to raise funds to pay Patrick’s medical bills.
The website — www.patrickspals.org – displays two photographs on its home page. One shows Bush holding Patrick, and the second shows 26 members of his protective detail surrounding Bush, all with shaved heads.
“Two-year-old Patrick is our little guy. For the last several years, Kennebunkport has been the seasonal home of little Patrick’s mom and dad,” someone posted on the website. “Patrick’s dad, Jon, is our dear friend and co-worker from the protective detail of former President George H.W. Bush.”
“Earlier this spring, Patrick was diagnosed with leukemia. While his prognosis is very positive, there will be many years of treatment ahead. We are doing what we can to show our support and lend a helping hand to this amazing family and worthy cause.”
The website also provides details about a 50-mile motorcycle ride to benefit Patrick and his family.
The First Annual Patricks Pals motorcycle benefit will be held Aug. 10, starting at the American Legion Hall on Route 9 in Kennebunkport. It will include the ride, a lunch, a silent auction and a raffle.
Colleen Meyer, a Kennebunkport resident who is involved with the fundraiser, said several local artists, restaurants and lobstermen have agreed to participate in the auction and raffle.
McGrath speculated that the last time Bush shaved his head may have been when he joined the Navy in 1941 – he was 18 at the time – soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: