HOUSTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush will be mourned on Thursday at the Houston church where he worshipped for many years, a final public farewell before his remains are taken by train to their resting place at his Texas presidential library.
People pay their respects as the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush lies in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Houston. David J. Phillip/Pool via REUTERS
The remains of Bush, who died last week in Texas at the age of 94, were flown to Texas on Wednesday evening following a formal state funeral where the World War Two veteran-turned-politician was hailed as a warrior-statesman of uncommon personal kindness.
Amid an unusual bipartisan spirit at the service at Washington’s National Cathedral, both Republican and Democratic politicians honored a president who called for a “kinder, gentler” nation.
“George H.W. Bush was America’s last great soldier-statesman,” presidential biographer Jon Meacham said in a eulogy. “He stood in the breach in the Cold War against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship.”
Bush’s remains were accompanied by members of his family, and were taken by motorcade to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
The Houston church remained open through the night for mourners, who began lining up on Wednesday morning, to pay their final respects.
Following the funeral at St. Martin’s, where Bush and his late wife, Barbara Bush, were long-time worshippers, a train will carry his remains about 100 miles (160 km) northwest to College Station, Texas, where he will be laid to rest at his presidential library.
Bush, the 41st U.S. president, occupied the White House from 1989 to 1993, navigating the collapse of the Soviet Union and expelling former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces from oil-rich Kuwait.
A patrician figure, Bush was voted out of office in part for failing to connect with ordinary Americans during an economic recession.
However, he has been remembered as representing an earlier era of civility in American politics, an image burnished in recent years by the divisiveness and anger in the United States that accompanied the rise of President Donald Trump.
Bush, who also served as vice president to Ronald Reagan, did not endorse Trump in the 2016 presidential election. He sent him a letter in January 2017 saying he would not be able to attend his inauguration because of health concerns but wished Trump the best.
Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston and Steve Holland in Washington, D.C.; Writing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Tait