Thousands pay respect to Barbara Bush at public viewing

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HOUSTON, April 21: Thousands of mourners lined up to pay their final respects to former US first lady Barbara Bush who passed away this week.
A string of mourners, adults and children, were surprisingly greeted by former US President George H W Bush, at the public viewing of his wife of 73 years.
Bush sat at the front of the cavernous sanctuary of St Martin’s Episcopal Church along with his daughter Doro, gazing up at the rose-draped casket holding his wife of 73 years.
Bush greeted mourners, many of whom were wearing his wife’s favourite colour, blue and trademark pearls. He also offered his hand and smiled as people shook it.
Bush died on Tuesday at her Houston home. She was 92.
Barbara and George Bush were married longer than any other presidential couple when she died Tuesday at their home in Houston. One of just two first ladies to have a child elected president, Barbara Bush was widely admired for her plainspoken style and her advocacy for causes including literacy and AIDS awareness.
The casket of the matriarch of the Bush dynasty arrived at St Martin’s Episcopal Church off Woodway Drive about 5 am.
The patriarch Bush arrived at the church just before 1 pm and, for about a half-hour, he shook the hands of people filing past the casket of the former first lady.
People attending the viewing lined up yesterday at Second Baptist Church, about 3 miles away, to undergo a security screening and board METRO shuttle buses that took them to St. Martin’s
No foot traffic was permitted. Authorities said no backpacks, large bags or weapons were allowed, and photography was prohibited.
“Treat this as if you’re going to a sporting event or to an airport,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Woodway Drive from Chimney Rock Road to South Post Oak Lane was closed to most traffic for a portion of the day.
Even stricter traffic closures are expected Saturday for Bush’s memorial service, which begins at 11 am.
By late Friday evening, officials said around 3000 people stopped by to pay their respects to Barbara Bush.
Republican Senator John Cornyn, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee were among those who have been to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church as Mrs. Bush is lying in repose.
The public viewing came three days after Barbara Bush died at her Houston home at age 92, her husband George H W Bush by her side. She died of complications from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, having announced days earlier that she would forgo additional medical treatment to focus on comfort care.
As first lady, Bush was also immensely relatable. Though her husband George H W Bush may have led the country, she somehow – through her charm and bluntness and genuine nature – appeared to the nation as a mother, or grandmother, rather than another politician.
The Houston Police Department is ramping up security this weekend as dignitaries make their way to Houston to attend services for the late former first lady Barbara Bush.
The Houston Police Department is ramping up security this weekend as dignitaries make their way to Houston to attend services for the late former first lady Barbara Bush.
Acevedo held a news conference on Thursday about the city’s security measures, and confirmed that notable attendees will include first lady Melania Trump, former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama and former president and first lady Bill and Hillary Clinton. (PTI)