Bush Family, Crowd of Dignitaries Remember Barbara Bush

The Bush family on Saturday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

More than 1,000 people, including four former presidents and a range of boldfaced political names, attended a private funeral Saturday afternoon for Barbara Bush, the widely respected former First Lady, who died on Tuesday at the age of 92.

More than 6,200 people attended a public viewing on Friday.

Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and of course, Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, all gathered at  St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston —  though not President Trump, who spent the morning raging at a New York Times reporter. He said he would watch the service; it is not usual practice for a sitting president to attend a First Lady’s funeral because of security concerns.

George H.W. Bush, whose health is shaky, was wheeled into the service by George W. Bush. The 41st president and Barbara Bush, who had a storied romance, were married for 73 years. Eight of Bush’s grandchildren served as pallbearers, wheeling her coffin out of the church.

During the eulogies, speakers remembered Barbara Bush for her abiding humor, sternness, and faith.

Former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush joked about his mother’s famously no-nonsense demeanor. “She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly, it wasn’t always benevolent,” he said. He also recalled the life lessons she had taught him:

Presidential historian Jon Meacham called Bush “the First Lady of the greatest generation,” and praised her humanity and loyalty to country over party.

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, George W. Bush’s daughters, read passages from the Bible along with the other granddaughters of the former First Lady.

And Reverend Russell J. Levenson Jr., the rector of St. Martin’s and Bush’s pastor, reflected on her plainspoken nature. “What an interesting thing to be a confidant to a woman who has no secrets,” he said. “What you saw was what you got.”

Bush Family, Crowd of Dignitaries Remember Barbara Bush