remembering barbara bush

Generations of Houstonians pay tribute to Barbara Bush at poignant downtown celebration of her life

Houstonians pay tribute to Barbara Bush at celebration of her life

Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
A young Houstonian listens attentively to the service.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
A drone shot over the ceremony. Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Mourners brought flowers to adorn the former first lady's portrait.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
The flower mound grew as the day progressed. Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
A heartfelt message from a Houstonian.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
A Houstonian pens a tribute to Barbara Bush. Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Locals left messages of praise and gratitude to Mrs. Bush.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Mayor Sylvester Turner at the ceremony.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
The flag guard ushered in the ceremony. Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Various local religious leaders reflected on the former first lady's life.   Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Piles of flowers and stuffed animals marked City Hall.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Houstonians were reverent during the services.  Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
The crowd was a mix of young and old. Photo by Jacob Power
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial
Barbara Bush City Hall memorial

At a ceremony that was at once upbeat and poignant, Houstonians gathered on April 19 at the steps of City Hall to pay their respects to former first lady Barbara Bush for a celebration of her life.

The event included remarks by Rev. William Lawson, founding pastor of Wheeler Baptist Church, Samuel Karff, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel, and Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

There was also a presentation of flags, and a performance by the Houston Children's Chorus.

Attendees were encouraged to wear blue, the former first lady’s favorite color, and pearls as a tribute. The crowd was a diverse mix of young and old; the unifying theme was reverence and appreciation.

“We weren’t going to miss this for anything,” says Deborah Blanton. “She represented pride of country and a bygone era. We loved her, and we loved her literacy program. She just gave so much to Houston, and to our country.”

An emotional Amal Afra shared a foreigner’s perspective and adoration for the Bush family, especially Barbara. “I’ve been here for 49 years, and I’m crying — this is very moving. She represented everything that’s great about America,” says Afra.

“She represented family, love for country, and love for our children. She had the highest ethics and standards, and she was never fake. We Houstonians love and admire her — she was so down-to-earth. The Bushes changed America, and they changed Houston. We owe them so much.”

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With reporting by Jacob Power