LeTourneau University remembers Bush 41 connection

LeTourneau University Remembers History with Bush 41

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - As the 41st president was remembered in an emotional service in Washington D.C., an East Texas university is also sharing memories of him.

George H.W. Bush had a little known connection to LeTourneau University in Longview.

A model offshore drilling platform in the LeTourneau University library is a reminder to every student and teacher of the campus of a presidential connection.

“Our founder, R.G. LeTourneau, and George Bush were business partners, and their story goes back to the 1950′s,” says university President Dale Lunsford.

Long before he was president, Bush was in the oil business, owning Zapata Oil.

"One thing at the time in the 1950's was they knew there were oil reserves offshore. But drilling offshore to find this oil was very expensive," Lunsford says.

Years later, the former president touted the university.

“Just as your namesake was committed to excellence, just as he was an innovative leader, so too has LeTourneau University become an institution known for its dedication to its principles and its vision,” said Bush in a 1996 message to the university.

The pair joined for one of the most daring ventures in the oil exploration industry.

The first moveable, off-shore drilling rig, the Vinegarroon.

Many look on the partnership as typical of Bush’s success at anything he did.

“Mr. LeTourneau saw in Mr. Bush a man willing to take risks, and so to think that really this connection back here in Longview, Texas was the beginning of making that possible, that’s a pretty special thing,” says Lunsford.

The model platform Vinegarroon was lent to the Bush library in 2013 for display.

The 41st president was R.G. LeTourneau’s first customer for the movable drilling platform.

Copyright 2018 KLTV. All rights reserved.