While Nancy Vitarelli-Carvalho was watching news coverage of the state funeral for President George H.W. Bush, she couldn’t help but think of the passing of her father, whose funeral was just last weekend.

“The sadness his family is going through,” she said. “The heartache, but yet, they’re trying to be so strong for the rest of us. But inside, they’re just crushed because above all he was their dad.”

Nancy’s dad knew the former President.

In the 80’s, Paul Vitarelli was a prominent figure in Republican politics in Waterbury, serving many roles. One of those roles created a close working relationship with George H.W. Bush. Vitarelli would end up being a political strategist that helped Mr. Bush win the Connecticut primary in his run for the White House in 1988.

Nancy has a picture of the two of them together. She held onto it on Wednesday.

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“Dad was just in awe of him,” Nancy said.

She remembers meeting President Bush during campaign stops in Waterbury

“His sincerity, his realism. When you met him, it wasn’t like meeting a movie star or a politician,” she said. “He was just a regular guy and he would just listen to you if you talked to him.”

Nancy considers her dad to be her hero. She says both men were very much alike when it came to serving their country or community and being there for those they loved.

“And I think that’s their legacy — to be the best person you could be. And I think our President and my dad did that. They showed family first, faith, and our country,” Nancy said.

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She said her father served in the military and served his community by helping others. He volunteered to teach people to read and helped to start the Waterbury Food Bank. When it came to his involvement in politics, she says he wore many hats. His time working with President Bush was one of his greatest thrills.

“Dad was just in awe of him,” she said.

And because of her dad, Nancy got to meet the former President, and she was impressed.

On this National Day of Mourning, Nancy cherishes the picture of her dad with the former President, and her heart goes out to the Bush family.

“My dad just thought the absolute best of the Bush family,” she said. “My condolences go out to the them.”