Funer­als over, train takes Bush cas­ket to fi­nal rest­ing place

The Beaufort Gazette - - Obituaries - BY MANNY FER­NAN­DEZ

At the same church where his wife of 73 years was eu­lo­gized just seven months ago, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush was re­mem­bered Thurs­day morn­ing for his hu­mil­ity, de­cency and de­vo­tion to his fam­ily and his coun­try.

Nearly 1,000 rel­a­tives, friends and dig­ni­taries from the worlds of pol­i­tics, sports, busi­ness and en­ter­tain­ment filled St. Mar­tin’s Epis­co­pal Church, as they had in April for the fu­neral for Bar­bara Bush, who was 92 when she died. The fu­neral Thurs­day for Ge­orge H.W. Bush, who died last week at the age of 94, was one of the fi­nal events in what has be­come an ex­tra­or­di­nary mo­ment of na­tional mourn­ing for the 41st pres­i­dent.

Eight of his grand­sons led the mil­i­tary pall­bear­ers who car­ried Bush’s cof­fin into the church, and later his el­dest grand­son – Ge­orge P. Bush, the Texas land com­mis­sioner – spoke in a touch­ing eu­logy of his grand­fa­ther’s horse­shoe games with the fam­ily and the Se­cret Ser­vice, and of how it had been “the honor of a life­time to share his name.”

Bush’s friends and rel­a­tives de­scribed a man who walked softly through the post­war pages of Amer­i­can


HIS WISH FOR A KINDER, GEN­TLER NA­TION ...CAME ... FROM HIS SOUL. James Baker, Bush’s long­time friend

his­tory, who was de­fined by ser­vice to oth­ers and who, one cold day in Hous­ton, gave a young coat­less usher at St. Mar­tin’s the coat off his back.

“His wish for a kinder, gen­tler na­tion was not a cyn­i­cal po­lit­i­cal slo­gan: It came hon­est and un­guarded from his soul,” James Baker, Bush’s long­time friend of more than 60 years, said in a eu­logy.

Baker – who also served as sec­re­tary of state and White House chief of staff in the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and ran both of his pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns – fought back tears at the end of his re­marks, as he called Bush his role model and de­scribed their spir­ited de­bates, which usu­ally ended am­i­ca­bly and hu­mor­ously.

“But he had a very ef­fec­tive way of let­ting me know when the dis­cus­sion was over,” Baker said. “He would look at me and he would say, ‘Baker, if you’re so smart, why am I the pres­i­dent and you’re not?’ ”

Af­ter the fu­neral, Bush’s cof­fin trav­eled by train to Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas, where the for­mer pres­i­dent was to be buried on the grounds of the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity – next to Bar­bara Bush and their daugh­ter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 when she was 3 years old.

On Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sat at the front of Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral with all four liv­ing for­mer pres­i­dents at Bush’s state fu­neral, joined by thou­sands of for­eign lead­ers, law­mak­ers, diplo­mats and other of­fi­cials. In Hous­ton, it was a much smaller trib­ute, in large part for the Bush fam­ily and their friends and sup­port­ers in Texas, at the church Ge­orge and Bar­bara Bush had at­tended for more than 50 years. Trump did not at­tend, nor did any other for­mer pres­i­dents ex­cept for Bush’s son, Ge­orge W. Bush.

Amid the pageantry and pray­ers, and the an­thems sung by St. Mar­tin’s choir, there was a dis­tinct coun­try twang to the cer­e­mony, an homage to the adopted state of the Con­necticu­traised for­mer pres­i­dent. The Oak Ridge Boys, a coun­try group that first sang for Bush in 1983 when he was vice pres­i­dent, sang “Amaz­ing Grace” a cap­pella. Reba McEn­tire sang “The Lord’s Prayer.”


For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and Laura Bush watch as a joint ser­vices mil­i­tary honor guard car­ries the cas­ket of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush to a Union Pa­cific train in Spring, Texas. The train was bound for a burial site at the pres­i­den­tial li­brary in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

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