Barbara Bush funeral: Mourners gather to pay their respects


Some 1,500 guests, including former presidents and first ladies, filled St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston on Saturday morning for the funeral service.

Barbara and George Bush were married longer than any other presidential couple when she died Tuesday at their home in Houston. A eulogy was also given by Barbara Bush's longtime friend, Susan Baker, wife of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

Four of the five living ex-presidents are attending Saturday's funeral service, including former President Barack Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton.

After the funeral, a motorcade was to proceed through Memorial Park and travel more than 145 kilometres northwest to College Station, where Barbara Bush was to be buried in a private service at Texas A&M University, on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Numerous women at Friday's viewing wore blue blouses or pearl necklaces in honor of Barbara Bush, who often wore pearls and blue-colored shirts. Born in 1925, Barbara Bush served as first lady from 1989 to 1993.

"Heading to the Southern White House to watch the Funeral Service of Barbara Bush".

Addressing former presidents, ambassadors and hundreds of other mourners inside the nation's largest Episcopal church on Saturday, historian Jon Meacham recalled Barbara Bush's quick wit that made her so popular. Robin died of leukemia in 1953, just before her fourth birthday. When Mrs. Bush passed away she and President Bush had been married for 73 years, the longest-married couple in USA presidential history.

Jessica Queener, who works in special education and wears a cochlear implant to help with hearing loss, said Barbara Bush's work in education and helping people with disabilities "really resonates with me on a personal level but also professionally".

Numerous women who came to pay their respects wore Barbara Bush's favorite color, blue, and strands of pearls in tribute to Mrs. "I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother", President George W. Bush wrote of his mother who earned the nickname "the Enforcer" for keeping order at home. Barbara Bush came to the school a couple of years ago to read to the students, a day Rahul Sanklecha, 10, still remembers.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush poses for a portrait on August 23, 2001 in Houston.

"It was her singular ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world when you were talking to her", Craig Denekas, a member of the board of directors of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, told reporters. Inside the red-brick church, on the candlelit chancel in front of the altar, Barbara Bush lay in a closed silver coffin adorned with a multitude of bright flowers.

"The pearls I'm wearing today are for her", Bischoff said.

They have since placed a gorgeous wreath with a photo of the Bush family matriarch at the Grove in her honor.