BUSH CAR­RIED HOME ON TRAIN

The Sun News - - Front Page - BY MANNY FER­NAN­DEZ

A cus­tom­ized Union Pa­cific train car­ried Ge­orge H.W. Bush to his fi­nal rest­ing place in his adopted state, Texas.

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 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 Con­necti­cut-raised 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.” Numer­ous Texas fig­ures filled the pews. There were ac­tors (Chuck Nor­ris), base­ball Hall of Famers (Nolan Ryan) and busi­ness lead­ers (Til­man Fer­titta). There were cur­rent and re­tired foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and base­ball stars, in­clud­ing J.J. Watt of the Hous­ton Tex­ans, Jeff Bag­well of the Hous­ton Astros and Dikembe Mu­tombo and Yao Ming of the Hous­ton Rock­ets.

Bush, a World War II avi­a­tor from the East Coast, came to Texas in the sum­mer of 1948 to make a name for him­self in the oil busi­ness, driv­ing to the West Texas town of Odessa in a red two-door Stude­baker. Seventy years after that trip, Bush’s fu­neral train took him on one last jour­ney through the state, this time in a Union Pa­cific lo­co­mo­tive. The train, named Union Pa­cific 4141, trav­eled 70 miles through Mag­no­lia, Nava­sota and other small towns, led by a 4,300horse­power lo­co­mo­tive painted blue, gray and white to echo the col­ors of Air Force One. Mem­bers of the Bush fam­ily were on board.

Ar­ranged for a man who had been Amer­ica’s old­est liv­ing former pres­i­dent, Bush’s lo­co­mo­tive pro­ces­sion gave his long-planned me­mo­rial ser­vices a throw­back touch, evok­ing the pres­i­den­tial fu­neral trains for Abra­ham Lin­coln in 1865, Franklin Roo­sevelt in 1945 and Dwight Eisen­hower in 1969. The train ride from his Hous­ton fu­neral to his Col­lege Sta­tion burial was his idea, or­ga­niz­ers said.

The train it­self was un­veiled in 2005. Ge­orge and Bar­bara Bush toured it at an event held at Texas A&M, pos­ing for pic­tures in which they peeked out of the win­dow of the cab, above the side em­bla­zoned with “4141.”

DAVID J. PHILLIP NYT

Mourn­ers line both sides of the track as the train car­ry­ing the cof­fin of former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush passes by en route to his fi­nal rest­ing place in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas, on Thurs­day.

MICHAEL WYKE AP

Fire­fight­ers on an over­pass stand on their truck and salute as the train car­ry­ing the body of former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush trav­els through Texas on Thurs­day.

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