Valdosta Daily Times

October 24, 2012

Laura Bush visits this week

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Georgia Christian School is preparing to greet former First Lady Laura Bush to town this week as the featured speaker for the school’s 2012 Benefit Dinner at Valdosta State University.

Tickets sold out for the Thursday, Oct. 25, event shortly after the school announced the event in May.

A few years ago, Georgia Christian School began the annual dinner to benefit the school by inviting well-known sports figures. For the 2011 dinner, Georgia Christian Headmaster Brad Lawson, school representative Ryan Warren and others changed the format by inviting former GOP presidential candidate, Arkansas governor and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee.

Selling out the Huckabee dinner, Georgia Christian looked to top the 2011 dinner. School officials were able to book Laura Bush but not at first.

Representatives initially declined the school’s invitation. Looking for a speaker and coming upon a deadline, Georgia Christian tried Laura Bush a second time. Given her love of education, she accepted the second offer.

In scheduling a First Lady, there are many security concerns. She is still protected by Secret Service. Anyone coming into contact with the First Lady must be vetted. For Huckabee’s appearance, people could purchase available tickets within a few days of the benefit dinner. With Laura Bush’s appearance, the school had to submit a guest list weeks in advance.

Laura Bush is not the first First Lady to visit Valdosta. Decades ago, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at what would become Valdosta State University. Lady Bird Johnson made a Valdosta stop on a train tour. Hillary Clinton visited Valdosta with her husband Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign. Of course, former presidential First Lady and Georgia First Lady Rosalynn Carter has visited Valdosta on more than one occasion.

“One of the most beloved and admired First Ladies,” Laura Bush was born in Midland, Texas, the daughter of Jenna and Harold Welch. With a degree in public education and a master’s degree in library science, she taught in Dallas, Houston and Austin public schools and worked as a public school librarian. She married George W. Bush in 1977.