Bush buried on pres­i­den­tial li­brary grounds, but law pre­vents an Obama Cen­ter burial

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER [email protected]­times.com | @lynnsweet

WASH­ING­TON — The burial of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush on the grounds of his pres­i­den­tial li­brary and mu­seum at Texas A&M Univer­sity on Thurs­day raises a ques­tion: Is it pos­si­ble for for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to be laid to rest at his pres­i­den­tial cen­ter in Chicago?

For now, the an­swer is no, ac­cord­ing to Bill McCaf­frey, a spokesman for the City of Chicago Law Depart­ment.

Buri­als in Chicago can only take place in ceme­ter­ies, ac­cord­ing to city or­di­nances. The 19.3 acres in Jack­son Park to be the site of the Obama Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter is not a le­gal ceme­tery.

“That’s what these or­di­nances in­di­cate,” McCaf­frey told me.

A spokesman for the Obama Foun­da­tion de­clined to com­ment on the ques­tion if the plans for the Obama Cen­ter pro­vide Obama and for­mer first lady Michelle a burial op­tion and if the foun­da­tion agrees with the Law Depart­ment con­clu­sion.

The foun­da­tion will have a 99-year lease with the city for the land in Jack­son Park, and a gravesite was not des­ig­nated in plans filed with the city. The re­main­der of the his­toric park re­mains in control of the Chicago Park Dis­trict.

Bush, the 41st pres­i­dent, was buried in a fam­ily plot be­hind the Bush Li­brary in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas, next to his wife, Bar­bara, who died on April 17, and daugh­ter Robin, who passed away in 1953. His state fu­neral was Wed­nes­day in Wash­ing­ton.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, the 43rd pres­i­dent, changed his mind about his burial af­ter his mother’s fu­neral, ac­cord­ing to The States­man, a Texas pa­per. The fi­nal rest­ing place of Bush and his wife, Laura, will be the grounds of the Ge­orge W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary at South­ern Methodist Univer­sity in Dal­las.

Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told the States­man, “When Pres­i­dent Bush went to his mother’s burial, which was at the Bush Li­brary in Col­lege Sta­tion, he felt that added a nice per­ma­nence to the li­brary there, and he and Mrs. Bush de­cided they wanted to do the same thing. So they will be laid to rest in Dal­las.”

The Clin­ton Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, has a burial site for Bill and Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

Clin­ton friend James “Skip” Rutherford told me in a 2017 in­ter­view, “The de­ci­sion where Pres­i­dent Clin­ton is go­ing to be buried is en­tirely up to Pres­i­dent Clin­ton,” Rutherford told me. “But if he chooses the Clin­ton Li­brary site as a burial site, the li­brary is ready.”

For­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter, 94, now the old­est for­mer pres­i­dent, and wife Ros­alynn will be buried at their house in Plains, Ge­or­gia, and not at the Jimmy Carter Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum in At­lanta.

Carter said in a Dec. 3, 2006, C-SPAN2 in­ter­view, “Plains is spe­cial to us. I could be buried in Ar­ling­ton Ceme­tery or wher­ever I want, but my wife was born here and I was born here.”

Her­bert Hoover is buried at the Hoover Li­brary and Mu­seum in West Branch, Iowa. Pres­i­dent Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt is buried at the Franklin Roo­sevelt Li­brary and Mu­seum in Hyde Park, New York.

Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man’s grave is at the Tru­man Li­brary and Mu­seum in In­de­pen­dence, Mis­souri. Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower’s fi­nal rest­ing place is at the Eisen­hower Li­brary and Mu­seum in Abi­lene, Kansas.

Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon is buried at the Nixon Li­brary and Birth­place in Yorba Linda, Cal­i­for­nia. Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford’s grave is at the Ger­ald Ford Mu­seum in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan. Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan is en­tombed at the Rea­gan Li­brary and Mu­seum in Simi Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia.

And Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln, as good Illi­noisans should know on this week mark­ing the 200th an­niver­sary of the state, is buried at the Oak Ridge Ceme­tery in Spring­field.

JEFF ROBERSON/AP

Fam­ily mem­bers of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush fol­low a joint ser­vices mil­i­tary honor guard car­ry­ing Bush’s cas­ket be­fore his burial at his pres­i­den­tial li­brary and mu­seum Thurs­day in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

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