People from around the world are visiting central Texas this week to pay their respects to former First Lady Barbara Bush. She died at 92 on Tuesday.
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum draped banner portraits of Bush in the lobby, and visitors were encouraged to sign condolence books for the First Family. Flags outside the library and museum named after the 41st president flew at half-staff.
“We just thought it would be very very appropriate to show our respects for such a charming dignified first lady,” said Mary Ellen Freed, who stopped in College Station with her husband on their way from Florida to California.
Freed particularly admired Bush’s commitment to family literacy. As a retired teacher herself, Freed will remember Bush’s desire for others to have a quality education.
“I taught school many years ago and reading is such a joy for children, it opens up so many other avenues, it’s a great way to have a legacy,” Freed said.
The Bush family frequented College Station, so much so that they became a part of the community, according to Warren Finch, 14 year director of the library and museum.
“We’ll miss her ‘down-to-earth-ness’ and her honesty, so when you ask Mrs. Bush a question – Mrs. Bush gave you an honest answer,” Finch said.
Known as “The Enforcer,” Bush was remembered Wednesday by visitors who looked up to her leadership in Washington.
“She was a very powerful influence on her family,” California visitor Mary Mazboudi said. “If it wasn’t for her, maybe her husband and children maybe wouldn’t have gotten into politics and gotten to be presidents.”
Steve Lewis, who stopped by from Atlanta, Ga., said he wanted to make sure his family knew he came by to pay his respects.
“[Bush] really set the standard for what it meant to be a First Lady and a First Mom, and she is obviously one of only two who accomplished that, and i just wanted to come by and pay my regards,” Lewis explained.
Finch said the library staff would waive admission and extend hours for a few days to allow people the chance to visit.
“She’s really lived a remarkable life we’re sad but also it’s very much a celebration of her life,” Finch mentioned.
Bush will be interred at the grave site on the library grounds, where one of her daughters, Robin, is buried. Robin died as a child. President Bush will also be buried at the same location when he passes away, library staff said.
Bush will lie in repose Friday in Houston. Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday in Houston.