Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, the former First Lady, were unable to attend; A spokeswoman said that Carter was on a private trip overseas and that Ms. Carter was recovering from a recent operation.
The 90-minute service, which begins at 11 am local time, has been in the works for years. Ms. Bush herself selected the three eulogists: her son Jeb Bush, Florida's former two-year governor; Susan Baker, a longtime friend and the wife of James A. Baker III, the former Secretary of State; and Jon Meacham, a presidential historian who published a biography of her husband in 201
The funeral crowned a week-long mourning period in Houston. There were formal rallies and spontaneous honors at City Hall, the police department, senior Mr. Bush's office and Barbara Bush Elementary School in the city's Energy Corridor.
At school on Wednesday, headmistress Theresa Rose wore beads in honor of Mrs. Bush, who had been there regularly since the school opened in 1992. Ms. Bush came to school a few years ago to read to the students, a day that Rahul Sanklecha, 10, remembers. He was in third grade, and she read a children's book about Abraham Lincoln called "Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books."
"Her schedule is busy, but she came out to read us," Rahul said. now a fifth grader. "I'm really proud to represent a school named after her."
Saturday's funeral was supposed to be a private invitation for 1,500 relatives, friends and dignitaries, but is televised nationwide. Friday's viewing was for everyone else: ordinary men, women and children, many of them from Houston and other parts of Texas.
They came in suits and dresses, nurse coats and soccer jerseys, jeans and school uniforms. They were young and they were old. They were white, black, Asian, Latino. In the red brick church, on the candlelight in front of the altar, Mrs. Bush lay in a closed silver casket adorned with a multitude of bright flowers. About halfway through the visit, around 3,000 visitors poured in for the afternoon and stopped to bow their heads or make the sign of the cross.
"I just wanted to be there to honor her," said Barbara McMahon, 78, a retired librarian living in Houston who wore her pearl earrings to St. Martin on Friday. "It saddens me because it is such an incredible example, and I do not know how many people there will be."
Parts of the neighborhood surrounding the church were closed to most traffic on Friday. The public was forbidden to approach the church on foot or in personal vehicles. Instead, they gathered in the nearby Second Baptist Church, passed security services, and then boarded buses to and from St. Martin's.
After the funeral, a motorcade was to drive through Memorial Park and drive more than 90 miles northwest to College Station, where Mrs. Bush was to be buried in a private service at Texas A & M University on the grounds of George HW Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Ms. Bush was to be buried next to her daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.
Before entering the Library, turn left on George Bush Drive into the motorcade at College Station from Barbara Bush Drive
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