Bush, Prez and patriarch, is home for Texas burial
Houston: George H.W. Bush, who shaped history as 41st president and patriarch of a family that occupied the White House for a dozen years, is going to his final rest Thursday in Texas.
More than 11,000 people paid their respects to Bush as his casket lay in repose all night at a Houston church where his family worshipped. Some visitors waited for hours to pay tribute to Bush, who will be buried Thursday following a funeral at St. Martin's Episcopal Church.
The country said goodbye to him Wednesday in a national funeral service that offered high praise for the last of the presidents to have fought in World War II and a hefty dose of humor about a man once described as a cross between Mister Rogers and John Wayne.
After three days of remembrance in Washington, a plane brought Bush's casket for his funeral's closing ceremonies in Houston and burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukemia at age 3.
In the service at Washington National Cathedral, three former presidents and President Donald Trump looked on as George W Bush eulogized his father as "the brightest of a thousand points of light."
The cathedral service was a tribute to a president, a patriarch and a faded political era that prized military service and public responsibility. It was laced with indirect comparisons to Trump but was not consumed by them, as speakers focused on Bush's public life and character with plenty of cracks about his goofy side, too.
"He was a man of such great humility," said Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming. Those who travel "the high road of humility in Washington, D.C.," he added pointedly, "are not bothered by heavy traffic."
Trump sat with his wife, a trio of ex-presidents and their wives, several of them sharp critics of his presidency and one of them, Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic foe. Apart from courteous nods and some handshakes, there was little interaction between Trump and the others.
George W Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 his mother, who died in April.
He took comfort in knowing "Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again."
It was a family that occupied the White House for a dozen years the 41st president defeated after one term, the 43rd serving two. Jeb Bush stepped up to try to extend that run but fell short when Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries.
The elder Bush was "the last great-soldier statesman," historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, "our shield" in dangerous times.
But he also said that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply cracked, "Never know. Gotta ask."
Meacham recounted how comedian Dana Carvey once said the key to doing an impersonation of Bush was "Mister Rogers trying to be John Wayne."