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Dec. 6, 2018 / 4:58 PM GMT
By Dartunorro Clark
Former President George H.W. Bush was remembered by family and friends as a humble leader with the “courage of a warrior” at a second funeral at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Thursday.
James Baker, a close friend who served as Bush’s secretary of state and chief of staff, delivered the first eulogy, sprinkling his tribute with humorous personal stories and praise for the former president as a man of strong faith and quiet humility.
“Yes, he had the courage of a warrior. But when the time came for prudence, he always maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker,” Baker said, referring Bush’s role in maintaining diplomacy after the Berlin Wall fell during his administration.
“He understood that humility toward, and not humiliation of, a fallen adversary was the very best path to peace.”
Baker, who was with the president during his last days, also drew laughs from the audience when describing the heated discussions he would have with the president about domestic issues and world events.
“He would look at me and he’d say, ‘Baker, if you’re so smart, why am I president and you’re not?’ He was a leader and he knew it,” Baker said.
Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was also honored Wednesday at a state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, which was attended by a host of world leaders and current and former presidents and first ladies.
The Thursday funeral is mainly for close friends to the former president and his family, who also attended Wednesday’s service. Several of his granddaughters read from scripture during the beginning of the service.
Baker choked up toward the end of his eulogy, describing his friend as a consummate statesman.
“He was not considered a skilled speaker, but his deeds were quite eloquent—and he demonstrated their eloquence by carving them into the hard granite of history,” he said.
“We rejoice…that you are safely tucked in now, and through the ages, with God’s loving arms around you. Because our glory, George, was to have had you as our president, and as such a friend.”
The president’s five living children were seated in the front row, including eldest son George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush. The other children include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush.
George W. Bush, who deliver a tearful eulogy at Wednesday’s service, gave Baker a hug and a kiss on the cheek after his eulogy.
Texas Land Commissioner George Prescott Bush, the former president’s oldest grandson and the son of Jeb Bush, eulogized his grandfather with personal anecdotes, affectionately referring to the former president as “Gampy” and his grandmother, the late former first lady Barbara Bush, as “Ganny.”
He told stories of playing horseshoe with his grandfather and his cousin and fly fishing with him in Maine, where the Bush family has a home. He said that despite Bush being a “larger than life figure,” he always made time for his grandchildren.
“In a typical day, he’d wake up around 5 a.m. to review security briefings and grab his first coffee of the day. When the coast was clear all the grandkids would try our best to snag a spot on the bed and nestle up between him and ‘Ganny’ while they read the paper,” George P. Bush said.
He called him “the most gracious and most decent and most humble man I will ever know.”
For the musical selection, The Oak Ridge Boys performed “Amazing Grace” in honor of the former president, whom they meet while Bush was vice president.
Country music icon Reba McEntire also performed “The Lord’s Prayer,” which prompted George W. Bush to dab his eyes with a handkerchief afterward.