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Ex-U.S. presidents among mourners expected at Barbara Bush funeral

Former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush lay in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston

Members of the public visit Former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush, the wife of the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, and mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush, as she lies in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Richard Carson

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Several former U.S. presidents were among the 1,500 mourners expected to gather at a Houston church on Saturday for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush, who died on Tuesday at the age of 92.

Bush, the wife of the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, and the mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush, will be remembered at an invitation-only service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where she and her family have been members since the 1950s.

Among those planning to attend are former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, current first lady Melania Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama.

High-ranking officials from the elder Bush’s administration, including former Vice President Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney, who served as defense secretary before later becoming George W. Bush’s vice president, will also be among the mourners.

President Donald Trump is not expected in Houston.

Bush’s younger son, former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush, will deliver a eulogy, as will her friend Susan Baker, the wife of former Secretary of State James Baker, and the historian and author Jon Meacham.

Hours before the service’s scheduled start at 11 a.m. local time (1600 GMT), security was tight, with bomb-sniffing dogs checking media equipment and police officers searching bags.

Guests arrived at a different church several miles away to be bussed to the venue, walking past a throng of media.

“It was her singular ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world when you were talking to her,” Craig Denekas, a member of the board of directors of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, told reporters.

Following Saturday’s service, Bush will be buried on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, next to her daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of 3.

Members of the public paid their respects on Friday, when Bush lay in repose at the church. The 93-year-old George H.W. Bush, seated in a wheelchair in front of the casket, greeted mourners in turn with a handshake.

Bush, who was married to her husband for 73 years, was known for her sharp tongue and fierce devotion to her family and enjoyed broad public popularity during her time in the White House.

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(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Diane Craft)

 

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