Barbara Bush’s Public Viewing Brings 2,500 Admirers

Almost 3,000 people come out to pay respects to the former first lady.

Thousands pay respect to the former first lady today in Houston.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Almost 3,000 people come out to pay respects to the former first lady.

At least 2,500 people went to pay their respects to former first lady Barbara Bush, walking past her rose-covered, silver casket inside a Houston area church at her public viewing on Friday.

The former first lady, age 92, passed away on Tuesday after declining further medical treatment.

ABC News reports that mourners waited in line to walk past in a steady stream of groups of about 10 to 15 at a time at the viewing held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where the couple worshipped at for many years. The viewing began at noon local time and ends at midnight. Security screenings for those who visited took place at nearby Second Baptist Church, and hundreds of people stood in line early before the viewing. A Secret Service agent stood on either side of her casket standing watch as people took a moment to bow their heads or make the sign of the cross.

President George H.W. Bush surprised mourners by deciding at the last minute to greet some of them as they came to say a final goodbye to the widely admired woman, according to a People report. He stayed beside his late wife’s casket sitting in a wheelchair, and although the occasion was somber, Bush took joy in greeting small children who arrived with their parents at the viewing. Altogether, he accepted condolences, shaking hands for about 15 minutes.

On her final day, the United States’ 41st president held his wife of 73 years’ hand as she slipped out of life.

On Friday, many women who attended the viewing wore blue, which was the first lady’s favorite color, and they donned pearls, which she often wore around her neck.

Mrs. Bush’s funeral, scheduled for Saturday, will host many notable guests, including former presidents and first ladies Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well Barack and Michelle Obama. Of course, her own son and daughter-in-law, former President George W. and Laura Bush, also plan to attend. While sitting President Donald Trump will not attend, first lady Melania Trump will represent the White House at the funeral for the Bush family matriarch.