The casket of George H.W. Bush arrived back in Texas on Wednesday afternoon for a private service Thursday at his longtime Houston church.
The flight on the aircraft usually designated Air Force One, renamed "Special Air Mission 41," landed at Ellington Field at 5 p.m. A military honor guard transferred the casket and the hearse was escorted to the church for public viewing Wednesday night.
People have been lined up here at the Second Baptist Church in Houston since Wednesday morning, with the line growing throughout the day. Those in line will board shuttlebuses that will take them to St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where Bush and his late wife Barbara worshipped for 50 years.
Barbara’s funeral was held at St. Martin’s and it’s where Bush lied in repose Wednesday night.
The woman who is first in line, Donnie Berkheimer-Lubeck, said just having the opportunity to view Bush’s casket means so much to her.
"He's a fabulous man, his wife is wonderful. I mean, you couldn't find two finer people. He's been an honor to the City of Houston and to the state and we love him and we just, I just wanted to make sure I paid my respects to him,” Berkheimer-Lubeck said.
Pennie Werth-Bobian was also one of the first people in line. She had a picture of her and George H.W. Bush taken in the 90s shortly after she got married. She says the former president gave her some marital advice.
"And he said because they make it so strong because they're best friends. And I said that's awesome because Ernie and I are best friends also, and we've been together over 26 years,” she recalled.
People lined up to pay their respects to Bush since Wednesday morning. The line stretched around the Second Baptist Church
Reverend Russell Levenson, who delivered the homily at the service in Washington, prayed over him when he arrived.
The viewing began around 7 p.m. Bush will lie in repose here through the night until a private service Thursday morning.
Mourners were shuttled from Second Baptist Church to nearby St. Martins.
Jennifer McDonald had a rare opportunity, as did her daughters, to connect with the former president.
"Since they were in their Girl Scout sashes, they got a chance to meet President Bush and first lady Bush,” she recalled. “And so they got a picture with them, and we've been big fans of theirs for many, many years."
George Ruiz brought his son to the viewing. Their respect for President Bush began in 1990 when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We keep thinking about what if our son were born in a different era, life would be totally different,” he said. “It is because of what he did for ADA, people with disabilities that my son is able to do the things that otherwise he wouldn't be able to do."
Former President George W. Bush, who spoke Wednesday’s service in D.C., will also speak Thursday morning at a private service at St. Martin's.
Current Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, grandson of George H.W. Bush, will also speak as well as James Baker III, a longtime friend of Bush.