Barbara Bush funeral: 1,500 pay tribute to former first lady

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Former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush arrive as they pass by former first lady Hillary Clinton (L to R), former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Barack Obama and first lady Melania Trump at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush in Houston April 21 2018Image copyright
Reuters

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Former Presidents George W Bush and George HW Bush passed by the Clintons, the Obamas and Melania Trump as they arrived at the service

Emotional and humorous tributes have been paid to former first lady Barbara Bush at her funeral service in Texas.

Mrs Bush was the matriarch of a political dynasty that included two US presidents – her husband George HW Bush and her son George W Bush.

Past presidents, pizzeria owners and historians were among the estimated 1,500 mourners at St Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

Mrs Bush, a literacy campaigner, died at her home on Tuesday, aged 92.

The first lady from 1989 to 1993 had been in failing health for some time and had declined further medical treatment.

Her son Jeb Bush, Florida’s ex-governor, drew laughs from the crowd in a eulogy at the church where his parents have worshipped since the 1950s.

The 2016 presidential candidate said he knew what his “role model” mother would say to him if she were there, which included “keep it short” and “don’t get weepy”.

Historian and author Jon Meacham and friend Susan Baker, the wife of former Secretary of State James Baker, also shared stories of Mrs Bush’s sharp tongue, fierce devotion to her family and charming humour.

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Media captionBarbara Bush, matriarch of US political dynasty, died at 92

US President Donald Trump decided against attending the invite-only service, saying in a statement that his absence was “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family”.

The US president has had a difficult relationship with the Bushes, most significantly in his run against Jeb Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Mrs Bush reportedly described Mr Trump at the time as a “showman” and wondered how women could vote for him.

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EPA

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Current First Lady Melania Trump arrived without her husband who is in Washington

Current first lady Melania Trump, representing the First family, sat beside former President Barack Obama.

Other high profile attendees included former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama.

High-ranking officials from both the elder and younger Bushs’ administrations were also present, including Vice Presidents Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney.

However, former President Jimmy Carter is overseas and could not attend, while his wife Rosalynn is recovering from surgery.

Security was tight ahead the funeral service, which started at 11:00 local time (16:00 GMT), with secret service agents standing watch over Mrs Bush’s coffin, and bomb-sniffing dogs checking media equipment.

Following the ceremony, Mrs Bush will be buried on the grounds of the George HW Bush Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, next to her daughter, Robin, who died of leukaemia, aged 3.

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Reuters

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George Bush, 93, and his daughter Dorothy greeted mourners paying their respects on Friday

Tributes for “America’s grandmother”, as she was dubbed, have poured in from across the globe, with many praising her work in adult literacy.

Mrs Bush, née Pierce, was married to her husband for 73 years. She is survived by five children, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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