Fi­nal farewell to Pres­i­dent Bush

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Molly Hen­nessy-Fiske Los An­ge­les Times

Ge­orge H.W. Bush is praised for his faith, hu­mil­ity and pa­tience, em­body­ing courage and grace with hu­mor.

HOUS­TON — For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush was laid to rest Thurs­day at his pres­i­den­tial li­brary at Texas A&M Univer­sity in Col­lege Sta­tion af­ter nearly a week of ser­vices hon­or­ing his life.

Af­ter a state fu­neral in Wash­ing­ton, Bush was flown back to his adopted home in Hous­ton on Wed­nes­day. Flags had been at half-staff across the state since the na­tion’s 41st pres­i­dent died last Fri­day at age 94 at his home in Hous­ton’s Tan­gle­wood neigh­bor­hood.

More than 11,000 peo­ple filed solemnly through nearby St. Martin’s Epis­co­pal Church overnight to pay trib­ute to the for­mer pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent. Many had vis­ited the fam­ily’s church to mourn Bush’s wife, Bar­bara, who died in April at age 92.

On Thurs­day morn­ing, Bush’s five chil­dren, 17 grand­chil­dren and other fam­ily filled the pews for a fi­nal fu­neral ser­vice. They were joined by a host of Bush’s friends, an eclec­tic mix that in­cluded his for­mer sec­re­tary of state and chief of staff, James Baker; for­mer Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger; Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott; and coun­try singers Reba McEn­tire and the Oak Ridge Boys. The singers also per­formed dur­ing the ser­vice: McEn­tire “The Lord’s Prayer,” the Oak Ridge Boys “Amaz­ing Grace.”

Baker was the first to speak af­ter read­ings by Bush’s grand­daugh­ters, be­com­ing emo­tional at times as he re­called his friend of 60 years by his nick­name:

“Jefe,” Span­ish for chief. “My hope is that in re­mem­ber­ing the life of Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush and in hon­or­ing his ac­com­plish­ments, we will see that we are re­ally prais­ing what is best about our na­tion. The na­tion he dearly loved and whose val­ues he em­bod­ied,” Baker said, wip­ing tears as he stepped down from the al­tar.

Bush’s grand­son, Texas Land Com­mis­sioner Ge­orge P. Bush, re­called spend­ing time with his “Gampy” play­ing horse­shoes, watch­ing him fly fish and re­lax at the fam­ily re­treat in Ken­neb­unkport, Maine. He said the late pres­i­dent wrote his grand­chil­dren let­ters of en­cour­age­ment along the way, and they fol­lowed him not only into pub­lic ser­vice, but into the mil­i­tary.

“He left a sim­ple yet pro­found legacy to his chil­dren, his grand­chil­dren and his coun­try: ser­vice,” Bush said.

Af­ter the hour­long ser­vice, Bush’s body was taken — as he re­quested be­fore his death — to a Union Pa­cific train that trav­eled about 70 miles north­west, pass­ing through five small towns on its way to Col­lege Sta­tion. It was the first pres­i­den­tial fu­neral train since Dwight D. Eisen­hower’s body was borne from Wash­ing­ton to his Kansas home­town 49 years ago.

Bush’s train, dec­o­rated to sim­u­late Air Force One, had trans­par­ent sides so that mourn­ers lin­ing the tracks could see Bush’s flag­draped cof­fin.

Flag wav­ing-crowds lined the tracks.

As the train passed through the towns a group of el­e­men­tary stu­dents could be seen hold­ing a ban­ner that read “THANK YOU,” fire­fight­ers saluted atop their truck on an over­pass and a woman in a red hat held a sign that said “Rest in Peace Ge­orge” with hearts.

Judy Hulsey said it was a “very mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence” to be able to wave at the Bush fam­ily as they rode the fu­neral train to Texas A&M Univer­sity.

Hulsey, of Bren­ham, was among those who went to Nava­sota to watch as the train passed through on its way to Col­lege Sta­tion. Amer­i­can flags were hung on build­ings and a large sign read “Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush Thank You For A Life­time Of Ser­vice.”

She said it was worth stand­ing out in the cold and rain to be able to honor Bush and his fam­ily.

Kerry Dun­ford, of Rosen­burg, said, “I think it’s great for the coun­try to do this sort of thing so more peo­ple can be a part of show­ing their re­spects and giv­ing a trib­ute to this man who truly de­serves it.”

Some who lined up along the train route de­cided to make — or pick up — their own keep­sakes to re­mem­ber the day.

Some left coins on the tracks to be flat­tened as the train passed over and oth­ers picked up nearby rocks to take home.

Doug Allen, 55, of Cy­press, left eight coins on the tracks be­fore the train passed through Pine­hurst. The train left his three quar­ters, three dimes and two pen­nies flat­tened and slightly dis­col­ored.

He says he only thought of the idea a few mo­ments be­fore the train passed and his wife and her friend found the coins in their bags.

“It’s some­thing we’ll al­ways keep,” Allen said.

Af­ter ar­riv­ing at Texas A&M, Bush’s body was then driven along Ge­orge H.W. Bush Drive for a pri­vate fam­ily burial be­hind his pres­i­den­tial li­brary, be­side his wife and daugh­ter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

JEFF ROBERSON/GETTY

The flag-draped cas­ket of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush is car­ried by a joint ser­vices honor guard fol­lowed by fam­ily mem­bers Thurs­day in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

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