Hundreds attend private funeral for President George H.W. Bush in Houston

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HOUSTON, Tex. (KBTX)- A final service for former President George H.W. Bush was held Thursday in Houston, the city Mr. Bush adopted as his hometown, before he is laid to rest at his presidential library at Texas A&M University, in College Station. That journey to his final resting place will entail a train and a flyover.

The Houston funeral service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church was marked by eulogies from former White House chief of staff James Baker, and Bush grandson George P. Bush, who spoke of his kindness, love of country, and humility.

Singer Reba McEntire, who had a friendship with the late president, performed "The Lord's Prayer."

Bush family Reverend Russell Levenson recalled what it was like to be the Bush family pastor, recalling how Mr. Bush and Barbara Bush weren't territorial about their favorite space in the pews. When a tired mother, or a handicapped parent needed it, they were happy to give it up.

The late president, Lenvenson recalled, was ready for the next journey.

"He was ready for Heaven, and Heaven was ready for him," Levenson said.

Mr. Bush's grandson, George P. Bush, remembered the man he knew as "Gampy" growing up. He remembered how the former president would offer the grandkids an award for whoever fell asleep first, and how the grandchildren would cuddle up with their grandparents as they read the paper in the morning.

But the late president meant so much to so many more than just his family, George P. Bush recognized.

"Undoubtably, when the last words are written on him, they will certainly include this: the fulfillment of a complete life cannot be achieved without service to others," George P. Bush said of his grandfather.

Former White House chief of staff and lifelong friend of the late president James Baker began delivering the eulogy.

Baker described his friend's domestic and international accomplishments -- how he worked with other nations well. Baker emphasized Bush's courage, his kindness, and his humility.

He had the "courage of a warrior" but maintained the "greater courage of a peacemaker," Baker said.

"The world became a better place because George Bush occupied the White House for four years," Baker said. "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 understood that humility toward and not humiliation of a fallen adversary was the very best path to peace and reconciliation. Yes he had the courage of a warrior but when the time came for prudence he always maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker. His wish for a kinder, gentler nation, was not a cynical political slogan. It came honest, and unguarded from his soul."

Baker choked up towards the end of his speech, as he said his glory and the glory of others was to have Mr. Bush as a president, and as a friend.

"We rejoice, Mr. President, 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."

On Wednesday, thousands gathered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. -- including the present and past presidents, dignitaries, family and friends -- to honor the life and legacy of Mr. Bush.