Houston prepares final farewell for Barbara Bush

HOUSTON — Preparations are underway for the final goodbye to former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Her husband of 73 years, former President George H. W. Bush, held his beloved wife's hand until the very end.

On Wednesday, a broken-hearted Mr. Bush released a statement thanking everyone, saying "the outpouring of love and friendship being directed at 'The Enforcer' is lifting us all up. We have faith she is in heaven, and we know life will go on."

"It's the end to a 73-year-old love story, which will be continued up there," Houstonian Clarissa Lockett said, pointing to the heavens, while holding a poster outside the Bush's home.

Ever since the Bush matriarch passed away Tuesday night, friends and neighbors have been gathering outside the Bush home near Tanglewood to pay their final respects to a special woman the whole world is mourning this week.

"They were just so wonderful and down-to-earth," Margaret Rochs said. "We really have lost a treasure to Houston and the whole United States and the world. She was a great ambassador for everybody."

Private visitation has begun at Geo. H. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home in the Galleria area and will continue through Thursday.

A public viewing to pay respects to the late former First Lady will take place on Friday from noon to midnight at St. Martin's Church.

However, in order to attend the viewing, the public must first park at Second Baptist Church on Woodway and go through security there.

Then, Metro shuttles will transport the public to and from St. Martin's Church beginning at 11:30 a.m.

No one will be allowed to drive or walk up to St. Martin's directly.

The Bush family has created a special memorial website paying tribute to Mrs. Bush with a digital journey encompassing her entire life.

The family has also invited the public to contribute donations to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in honor of Mrs. Bush.

Other tributes to the former First Lady are popping up all over Houston like this one in Memorial Park.

"And there was a quote that she made some big decisions in her life while she was taking walks through the park," jogger Robert Dickey said.

President Trump ordered all flags to fly at half staff until Mrs. Bush is laid to rest.

Beginning this evening, Mayor Sylvester Turner has ordered the lights at City Hall to shine a light blue— matching her eyes, in memory of the late 92-year-old Houstonian.

"The world knew Barbara Bush as a wonderful, wonderful role model— and that she was," Mayor Turner shared during Wednesday's city council meeting. "But we also knew her as someone who gave much more to Houston than she received."

The city is also throwing a public Celebration of Life honoring Barbara Bush on Thursday night at 6 pm at Hermann Square.

"I'd like to think that she was also a mother to us all, and she'll be missed," her city council representative,  District G council member Gary Travis, told the Houston city council.

The funeral service for Mrs. Bush is by invitation only but will also be held at St. Martin's Church on Saturday at 11 am.

The White House has confirmed First Lady Melania Trump will attend the service, and likely a Who's Who of other world leaders will also be present.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sent his condolences to the Bush family and stated, "Barbara did a lot to build trust and friendship between us" in ending the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union.

Truly, the Bayou City has lost one of it's greatest residents— and America has lost an icon.