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Lori Goff discovered George H.W. Bush's love of socks through a news story last year.

Goff opened Jilly's Socks 'N Such with Jillian Fielder, a former student of hers, early in 2017. And one of the first things they did was send three pairs of socks and a letter to the former president, who was known for his colorful footwear.

Bush, who died last week at 94, responded in a letter to Goff on Oct. 9, 2017, complimenting the designs, which included Texas- and Nebraska-themed pairs and socks depicting the U.S. flag.

"I love the Texas socks; and while I'm a Texas A&M guy, I'm happy to have the Huskers socks, too," he wrote. "How thoughtful of you. I wish you great success with your exciting new venture. Looks to me like you're off to a great start!"

Goff said she was moved by the response of the nation's 41st president, who was also known for his letter-writing.

"Did I expect a response? No, I really didn't," she said Tuesday. "I just was trying to reach out and be nice."

Bush's letter is framed and hangs at the front of the shop.

The former president was known to wear socks to fit any occasion. He once sported a pair with former president Bill Clinton's face on them before meeting with the man who denied him a second term after a hard-fought 1992 presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press.

In March, Bush tweeted a photo of himself wearing a brightly colored pair of "Down Syndrome Super Hero" socks sent to him by John Cronin, a 22-year-old New York man with Down syndrome who with his father runs an online business selling socks.

Cronin's mother, Carol Cronin, said her son and Bush became "kind of sock buddies." Not long after starting John's Crazy Socks, John Cronin learned of Bush's love of colorful socks and sent him a box. After Barbara Bush died in April, it was Cronin who sent Bush the socks featuring books that he wore at her funeral. Barbara Bush was known for her work promoting literacy.

Bush, who was a naval aviator in World War II, will be buried Thursday wearing socks featuring jets flying in formation — a tribute, his spokesman says, to the former president's lifetime of service. 

"I knew he loved crazy socks," Goff said. "And because a majority of the people who love them can be younger, and he was in his 80s, and he'd been known for his wonderful sock collection for a long time, I just wanted him to know about our little store."

Goff said she sees socks as more than just an article of clothing. They make a statement. She's seen customers come in and try to pick something that matches the personality of whomever they're buying for.

"It's just a small gift," Goff said. "But it can mean a lot."

Photos: George H.W. Bush in Nebraska

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Newsroom intern

Fall semester newsroom intern at the Journal Star.

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