Hous­ton says farewell to Bush, a ‘de­voted’ man of faith

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Mon­ica Rhor, Rick Jervis and John Ba­con

HOUS­TON – For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush was a char­ter mem­ber of the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion whose con­tri­bu­tions to Amer­ica are “etched in the mar­ble of time,” for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James Baker told a somber crowd of more than 1,000 mourn­ers Thurs­day.

“He pos­sessed the clas­sic virtues of our civ­i­liza­tion and of his faith,” Baker, a long­time friend who served dur­ing Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, said in a eu­logy marked by laugh­ter and tears.

Baker spoke of Bush’s tri­umphs, in­clud­ing the fall of the Berlin Wall and build­ing the coali­tion that drove Sad­dam Hus­sein’s Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. He said Bush was will­ing to en­ter­tain op­pos­ing points of view, but also knew how to let him know the dis­cus­sion was over.

“He would look at me and say ‘Baker, if you are so smart, how come I am pres­i­dent and you’re not?’ ” Baker said with a laugh. But he also broke down into tears as he con­cluded, and many took his cue as the fu­neral rolled on.

The ser­vice for Bush, who died Nov. 30 at 94, was held at his beloved St. Martin’s Epis­co­pal Church. It kicked off with ren­di­tions of “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful” and “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner,” and grand­daugh­ters of the for­mer pres­i­dent pro­vided read­ings from Scrip­ture.

Ge­orge P. Bush, a grand­child and Texas land com­mis­sioner, told sto­ries of the man they knew as “gampy” play­ing horse­shoes, serv­ing ice cream bars and chal­leng­ing the grand­kids to games – and some­times of­fer­ing a “first-tosleep” award.

The Rev. Rus­sell Leven­son Jr., in his homily, noted that Ge­orge and Bar­bara Bush, who died at 92 in April, were “de­voted mem­bers” of the church for more than 50 years. He re­lated sto­ries of the elder Bush serv­ing cof­fee to churchgo-

ers and teach­ing Sun­day school.

“His very first act af­ter be­ing sworn into of­fice as our 41st pres­i­dent was to lead us in prayer,” Leven­son said. He then shared the same prayer Bush spoke that day in 1989.

Bush was a big fan of the Oak Ridge Boys, and the group sang “Amaz­ing Grace.”

“He fan­cied him­self to be a good bass singer,” band mem­ber Joe Bon­sall com­mented with a smile. “He was not.”

Bush’s grand­sons served as pall­bear­ers af­ter the fu­neral, walk­ing the flag-draped cas­ket to a group of ser­vice mem­bers who placed it in a hearse for trans­port to the Union Pa­cific Rail­road’s Pres­i­den­tial Train Car. The train trav­eled through Texas cities such as Spring, Mag­no­lia and Nava­sota, bound for Col­lege Sta­tion.

Navy vet­eran David Franklin drove about an hour from his home in Hum­ble, Texas, to Mag­no­lia. It was his way of pay­ing re­spect to the for­mer com­man­der in chief.

His truck was dec­o­rated with a U.S. flag (Bush’s ser­vice to the coun­try), a Texas flag (be­cause the pres­i­dent had been “a Texan at heart” and Christ­mas lights (for the sea­son). He planned to wave a Navy flag as the train passed.

“It’s a spe­cial mo­ment, a spe­cial train,” he said. “We won’t see some­thing like this again.”

Bush was later buried on the grounds of the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum on the cam­pus of Texas A&M Univer­sity. He was buried along­side his wife and their daugh­ter, Pauline Robin­son Bush, who died from leukemia short of her fourth birth­day.

In the hours be­fore the fu­neral, more than 10,000 mourn­ers paid their re­spects. Bush’s re­mains ar­rived at the church Wed­nes­day af­ter a ser­vice at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral that drew Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and all the liv­ing for­mer pres­i­dents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clin­ton, Barack Obama and Ge­orge W. Bush.

The Hous­ton fu­neral drew lu­mi­nar­ies and the or­di­nary. The Bush chil­dren walked in sin­gle file to their seats, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush at the end of the line, paus­ing to greet guests. Reba McEn­tire was there. So was Fawaz “Fuzzy” Ha­j­jar, who said he served pizza to the Bushes for 25 years at Fuzzy’s Pizza & Cafe in West Hous­ton.

JUSTIN SUL­LI­VAN/GETTY IM­AGES

Peo­ple in Nava­sota, Texas, on Thurs­day greet the train car­ry­ing the cas­ket of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush to the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary at Texas A&M Univer­sity.

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