‘Truly beau­ti­ful hu­man be­ing’

Fi­nal Bush farewell has dis­tinctly Texas feel

The Province - - NEWS -

HOUS­TON — Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s fam­ily and friends praised his faith, hu­mil­ity and pa­tience Thurs­day, say­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent em­bod­ied courage and grace along with his unique brand of hu­mour and kind­ness as days of na­tional mourn­ing in Wash­ing­ton took on a more per­sonal feel dur­ing a fi­nal Texas farewell.

Ad­dress­ing a fu­neral at Hous­ton’s St. Martin’s Epis­co­pal Church where the 41st pres­i­dent and his fam­ily reg­u­larly wor­shipped, Bush’s for­mer sec­re­tary of state and con­fi­dant for decades, James Baker, ad­dressed him as “jefe,” Span­ish for “boss.”

He praised Bush as a “truly beau­ti­ful hu­man be­ing” who had the “courage of a war­rior but the greater courage of a peace­maker.”

“The world be­came a bet­ter place be­cause Ge­orge Bush oc­cu­pied the White House for four years,” said Baker, who con­cluded his re­marks fight­ing back tears.

Fol­low­ing the ser­vices, a spe­cial fu­neral train was car­ry­ing Bush’s re­mains through small towns to the fam­ily plot on the pres­i­den­tial li­brary grounds at Texas A&M Univer­sity in Col­lege Sta­tion.

His fi­nal resting place is along­side his wife and Robin Bush, the daugh­ter they lost to leukemia at age 3.

Thurs­day’s flavour was dis­tinctly Texas. In place of most Wash­ing­ton dig­ni­taries were top Hous­ton ath­letes, in­clud­ing the NFL Tex­ans’ de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt — dis­play­ing Bush’s love for sports — and Chuck Nor­ris, who played TV’s Walker, Texas Ranger.

The St. Martin’s Par­ish Choir per­formed This is My Coun­try, which was also sung at Bush’s pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1989.

Those gath­ered also heard a prayer stress­ing the im­por­tance of ser­vice and self­less­ness that the pres­i­dent him­self of­fered for the coun­try at the start of his term. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wasn’t in at­ten­dance Thurs­day, but Baker seemed to draw a gen­tle con­trast by say­ing Bush re­spected van­quished ad­ver­saries.

He said that Bush’s wish for a “kin­der, gen­tler na­tion” was gen­uine, not cyn­i­cal.

There were rous­ing ren­di­tions of the Bat­tle Hymn of the Repub­lic and On­ward Chris­tian Sol­diers, but also many of Bush’s coun­try favourites.

The Oak Ridge Boys re­called per­form­ing for him for decades and joked that Bush “fan­cied him­self to be a good bass singer. He was not.”

They then sang Amaz­ing Grace and Reba McEn­tire of­fered a mu­si­cal ver­sion of The Lord’s Prayer.

The pre­vi­ous evening, more than 11,000 peo­ple paid their re­spects as his cas­ket lay in re­pose in Hous­ton all night.

— THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The flag-draped cas­ket of Ge­orge H.W. Bush is car­ried out of St. Martin’s Epis­co­pal Church in Hous­ton yes­ter­day.

BUSH “War­rior”

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