KENNEBUNK, Maine — Bundled up against the December cold, and sporting colorful socks, people gathered on Kennebunk Beach Sunday afternoon to share stories and bid a spirited farewell to beloved neighbor former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30 at the age of 94 in Houston, Texas.

With dogs in tow, about 100 hearty souls shared stories of meeting the former president, whom everyone described as always caring and gracious.

George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who died in April, summered at the Bush family compound, Walker's Point in Kennebunkport and spent a lot of time at the beach, where Mrs. Bush walked her dogs daily. Bush, "41," was known for taking his speed boat, Fidelity, out on the waters off the Kennebunks, where people often encountered him in his usual friendly and gracious manner.

People spoke of the former president’s love of the community and the joy they saw when he roared, often at top speed, through the waters around Walker’s Point and the Kennebunk River.

“You could usually tell it was him because of how fast he was going,” said Diane Denk, who organized the event.

Denk, a Democrat, is the newly elected state representative for the Kennebunks. She organized a beach send-off for Barbara Bush in April, and was called to do the same just seven months later following the death of the former president.

“He was a good man. He was a good neighbor who many of us had the pleasure of running into around town, and regardless of your politics, it was a privilege that we knew him and cared about him,” Denk said.

While many people saw President Bush with Barbara at a local play at the former Arundel Barn Playhouse, or speaking at the annual Memorial Day Parade, or dining with friends at a local restaurant, others often saw him waving from the helm of Fidelity, or “speed golfing” as many have noted, at Cape Arundel Golf Club.

It was there, about 20 years ago, that Mark Ettinger and his son had a chance meeting with President Bush. Ettinger said when he told his son the president was in the group of men right in front of them at the clubhouse, instead of being intimidated, he jumped up and decided to go meet him in person.

“Before I could grab him, he ran out of the car and jumped into the golf cart with the president. Secret Service was not happy,” Ettinger said. “He said ‘so, I hear you’re the president! That’s cool!” He had this nice little chat with him, I got a nice photo, and President Bush was incredibly gracious.”

Daisy and John White from College Station, Texas, come to Kennebunkport in the summers, and decided this year to come for Prelude. They joined the tribute on the beach, and Daisy White told of the Bush’s sharing the pool at Walker’s Point with her triplet grandsons.

“We often saw them at church when we were here, and one day Mrs. Bush asked what we were doing while we were in town. I said we’re having a great time with the boys, but the water is a little cold for swimming. She said well then, at 3 o’clock you will be at our house and they can swim in the heated pool. One of our favorite pictures is one of our little grandsons with his hand wrapped around President Bush’s leg,” Daisy White said. “They were always so gracious, and such wonderful people. He loved this place, he really loved this place.”