Friends, Former Presidents Say Farewell to Bush

About 1,500 friends and family filled St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston on Saturday for the invitation-only funeral for former first lady Barbara Bush. 

Bush died Tuesday at her Houston home. She was 92.

The church choir sang “Nearer My God to Thee” during the morning's 75-minute funeral, the details of which Mrs. Bush had personally planned for years as a traditional Episcopal service.

The Bushes, longtime Houston fixtures, joined St. Martin's 54 years ago.

All living former presidents except Jimmy Carter – whose wife is recovering from surgery – attended the funeral, as did current first lady Melania Trump.

Her husband of 73 years arrived in a wheelchair with the help of his sons, former President George W. Bush, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, along with other members of the Bush clan. 

Also in attendance was two other former presidents - Bill Clinton and Barack Obama - who were there along with their wives. Current First Lady Melania Trump was also there. The White House said President Trump did not attend  "to avoid disruptions due to added security," and out of respect for those family members and friends attending the service. 

Historian Jon Meacham delivered a eulogy in which he described Barbara Bush as the "first lady of the greatest generation." Meacham said Bush was "candid and comforting, steadfast and straightforward, honest and loving." 

Officials say more than 6,200 people came through the church on Friday to pay their final respects to the former First Lady who died at her Houston home on Tuesday. She was 92 years old. 

After the service, a motorcade took Mrs. Bush's casket and her family from St. Martin's through Memorial Park -- where hundreds of Houstonians lined up to pay their respects -- to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station for the former first lady's burial next to daughter Robin, who died as a toddler.

Saturday's funeral was preceded by a public farewell Friday, where several thousand people filed by her casket quietly at the church. At one point, former President George H.W. Bush arrived in a wheelchair to view his wife's casket -- and then stayed for about 20 minutes to shake the hands of each surprised well-wisher who passed by. 

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