Tributes to Rhonda Houston by President George W. Bush and Bush Center CEO Ken Hersh

Learn more about Ken Hersh.
Kenneth A. Hersh
Ken Hersh
President and Chief Executive Officer
George W. Bush Presidential Center

Rhonda Houston, Chief of Staff to Ken Hersh, passed away on Dec. 30 after courageously fighting cancer.

A Tribute from President Bush to Bush Center Staff: 

December 30, 2020

Laura and I join you in your grief over the passing of Rhonda Houston.  Her loss is a cruel end to a challenging year. Rhonda has been a valuable colleague of ours dating back to our days together at the Texas Rangers.  We were fortunate she came with us to Washington, where she became a treasured member of the White House staff.  And of course we are all lucky to have worked with Rhonda at the Bush Center.  Our friend made the place hum with efficiency and good cheer, and she contributed – often quietly – to so many aspects of our success.  It was Rhonda who wisely encouraged me to speak out on racial justice after the death of George Floyd, and her impact on our culture will forever be a part of the Bush Center.  As you mourn her death, we encourage you to remember her smile, her smarts, and her friendship.

With sympathy,


A Tribute from Bush Center CEO Ken Hersh: 

Rhonda Houston was a gift to all of us at the Bush Center.

Her loving spirit guided us in so many ways. Not only did she support so many of the great programs here with her tireless efforts, but also, she never stopped infusing that work with the values that we are perpetuating.  Her presence was felt up and down the hallways here every day. She enlivened every room; she made our work better.

More importantly, she was a friend to everyone here. She always had time to listen and do what she could to help. She never shied away from an issue and was always constructive. She even found the time to be a friend to the Texas A&M alumni who work here. Now, that is saying something!

For me, she was the gentle, yet firm voice that provided me instant feedback (some welcome, some, less so), but always with the intention of making this place better. She was often the voice of my conscience.

When the murder of George Floyd occurred, she was quick to encourage all of us to be better advocates for social justice and to find ways, both large and small, to be better. At the Bush Center, she was the architect of our Diversity and Inclusion efforts, including the formation of an internal task force with a membership rotation designed to have every employee here serve on it. Under her leadership, the first act of this council was to rename it, the “All-In Council.”  Rhonda saw diversity and inclusion as meaning much more than simply race. She saw it as an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that everyone has value, regardless of race, creed, color or gender. This is just one example of Rhonda’s compassionate, yet strong imprint on the lives of so many.

I will miss my friend Rhonda’s spirit. Her infectious laugh lit up the place. Her strength and positive attitude, even when she was in declining health, was an inspiration. She made coming to work a pure joy.

We are “All-in” on Rhonda Houston. Her strength, compassion, joy, friendship and faith are examples for all of us. While she left her seat next to us at the Bush Center, she now sits next to the Lord, among all the other angels.