Cedar Rapids woman remembers friendship with former President Bush

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG)- For one Cedar Rapids woman, the death of former President George Bush is personal. That’s because she enjoyed a 40-year relationship with the elder Bush and the entire Bush family.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Malta Sally Novetzke looks at a poster noting a summit between the U.S. and Russia. Novetzke was appointed to the post by former President George Bush.

Sally Novetzke has a long history in Republican politics in Iowa.

She served as Linn County party chair and state party chair in the 1980s.

But it was her support of then-Presidential candidate George Bush, in the late 1970s, that sparked decades of friendship and an appointment as a U.S. ambassador to the island nation of Malta.

Novetzke said she remembers her introduction to Bush in the late 1970s when he ran against Ronald Reagan in the Iowa caucuses.

She and her husband Dick came to a “meet and greet” event with Bush at a home and were disappointed that fewer than 25 people showed up.

But they were impressed with what they heard.

“We were there when he spoke and I was so impressed with him and had been talking to Barb (Barbara Bush) before and they were just great people,” Novetzke said.

Novetzke signed on to run a number of Bush’s Iowa campaigns including campaigns both for President and for Vice President with Ronald Reagan.

When Bush was finally elected President in 1988, Novetzky said he approached here with an offer to join his administration.

“He said I want you to work for me. I said I can’t I still had Andrew, my youngest, at home. And I said call me when you are President. And he did,” Novetzke said.

That call asked her to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Malta which she did from 1989 until 1993.

She arrived just in time to arrange a summit meeting between Bush and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

She said it gave her a front row seat to political history and she will miss the President who made it possible.

Novetzke said she has been invited by the Bush family to participate in the former President’s funeral in Texas on Wednesday.