Thursday 13 December 2018

Texas bids farewell to former president George HW Bush

The funeral follows three days of events in Washington honouring the 41st president.

The flag-draped casket of former President George HW Bush (Mark Humphrey/AP)
The flag-draped casket of former President George HW Bush (Mark Humphrey/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

America’s final farewell to George HW Bush has switched to his home state of Texas, with his friend and former Secretary of State James Baker addressing him as “Jefe”, Spanish for “boss”.

Mr Baker fought back tears as he concluded his eulogy.

Country music’s Oak Ridge Boys, among the president’s favourites, sang Amazing Grace and Reba McEntire offered The Lord’s Prayer as three days of official ceremonies in Washington gave way to more personal touches for the Bush family in Texas.

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Former Secretary of State James Baker (David J Phillip/AP)

The night before, more than 11,000 people paid their respects as his casket lay in repose all night at St Martin’s Episcopal Church, where his family worshipped.

At Thursday’s funeral, Mr Baker said, “The world became a better place because George Bush occupied the White House for four years”.

He said that Mr Bush embodied some of the nation’s best values, “temperate” in thought, word and deed, “our nation’s very best one-term president”.

George P Bush, the former president’s grandson and the only member of the political dynasty still holding elected office – as Texas land commissioner, subsequently struck a more personal tone with the man he and the younger generations called “gampy”.

The services attracted local sports stars including Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt and featured hymns chosen and loved by the former president.

The nation’s capital bid him goodbye on 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 humour about a man whose speaking delivery was once described as a cross between Mister Rogers and John Wayne.

Mr 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 leukaemia aged three.

In the service at Washington National Cathedral, three former presidents and President Donald Trump looked on as George W Bush eulogised his father as “the brightest of a thousand points of light”.

Press Association

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