HOUSTON — George H.W. Bush, who shaped history as America’s 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 following a funeral at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
Thursday’s service began with “America the Beautiful” and a robust rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
It attracted local sports stars including Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and was featuring eulogies from Bush’s grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the only member of the famous family still holding elected office, and James Baker, his former secretary of state and a close friend for decades. Hymns being sung were chosen and loved by the former president, said the church’s pastor, Rev. Russell J. Levenson Jr.
Performing were some of Bush’s favorite country music stars including the Oak Ridge Boys doing “Amazing Grace” and Reba McEntire offering “The Lord’s Prayer” as three days of official ceremonies in Washington gave way to more personal touches for the former president in Texas.
The nation’s capital bid him goodbye Wednesday in a Washington 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 whose speaking delivery was once described as a cross between Mister Rogers and John Wayne.
Bush’s casket returned for the services in Houston, a ride on a special funeral train and eventual burial 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.