UT grad’s tribute to former president goes viral

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – There’s an East Tennessee connection to the nation’s mourning of former President George H.W. Bush. A UT alum and current Mississippi newspaper cartoonist is the talent behind two wildly popular Bush family cartoons. 

Marshall Ramsey drew an obituary piece for Barbara Bush back in April. This weekend, he created what he calls the “bookend” to that cartoon for the late George H.W. Bush.

You’ve likely seen the cartoons before circulating social media or even on major news networks.

The more recent Bush piece depicts the former president being greeted by his wife and their young daughter who lost her life to leukemia. Ramsey crafted it right after he got news of the president’s death Friday night. 

“I wanted to touch on his service so I drew his aircraft, his TBM Avenger that he flew in World War II, and had him landing in heaven and being greeted by Barbara and Robin, who had been in the first cartoon, of course. And then Barbara saying ‘we waited,'” said Ramsey. 

A bookend, he calls it, to the cartoon he drew back in April when former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away. That cartoon, he said, garnered overwhelming praise and support – even from members of the Bush family. 

“The first one was really, they showed it during the funeral. Several networks showed it during the funeral. The Today Show, like I said, Jenna did a piece and it was on that. So it really took off. And then this one once again is kind of doing the same thing,” said Ramsey.

The more recent artwork has racked up more than two million impressions on Ramsey’s social media accounts alone. 

“For one piece of art to somehow take off like this, it had nothing to do with me. This one was in somebody else’s hands,” he said. 

The cartoonist is remaining humble, but it’s clear his work is having a big impact. 

“I’ve been hearing from parents who have lost children. They’re telling me their stories, and they’re opening up and sharing with me and I mean I can’t tell you how incredibly powerful that is,” said Ramsey. “It’s just nice to know that somebody somewhere got a little bit of peace from something I did.” 

And the Bush cartoons are extra special to Ramsey. A reflection of a life that he also acknowledges was a special one. 

“He lived 94 years, but you know what’s really incredible about that is, and think about it, we all should live our life in a way that people think when we die at 94, ‘man he was taken too soon,'” Ramsey said.

Interesting to note – George H.W. Bush was actually the first president Ramsey cartooned. That cartoon was published in UT’s student newspaper, The Daily Beacon.

Marshall Ramsey tells us he plans to mail the Bush family copies of the cartoon on the late president. He did the same with his piece honoring Barbara Bush.

Click here for more on former President George H.W. Bush

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