Samantha Resendiz was bundled up for chilly weather, waiting in the 42-degree cold to pay her respects one last time to a man whose family she said “has a dear place in my heart.”
The nursing student said she’s been visiting the George H.W. Bush library in her hometown of College Station, Texas, since she was in kindergarten.
“We were talking about this morning that it just seems like you wanted him to be your grandfather,” said Resendiz, who now attends The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Resendiz was part of an outpouring of affection for the nation’s 41st president, who is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol rotunda all day Tuesday.
Wednesday, a state funeral will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, and Thursday, Bush will be laid to rest in College Station.
“My husband’s active duty Air Force, we’re stationed here now, but I wanted to come pay my respects to a wonderful man and a wonderful president who did a lot for his country,” said Tia Brinkley, an Arlington, Texas., native.
“We admire the Bush family, respect the gentleman, and he provided the type of leadership that is sadly lacking now,” said Peter Crew, who traveled from Houston to see the former president’s casket.
Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was president from 1989 to 1993. He was a familiar presence in Washington: a congressman in the late 1960s, then CIA director, envoy to China and Republican Party chairman. He was vice president from 1981 to 1989.
Before Bush leaves the nation’s capital Wednesday, veterans of his decades-long political career also lined up to pay final respects to a man who they said reminds them of a kinder, gentler time in D.C.
Former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, who is 95, made the trek to say goodbye to a onetime friend and occasional political rival.
Dole was helped from his wheelchair in the rotunda to salute the fellow World War II veteran, whom he unsuccessfully challenged or the 1988 Republican presidential nomination.
“I’m a Democrat, but George [H.W.] Bush was a good man,” Gary Holm said after viewing the casket. An Army veteran who served as budget chief for the Army Reserve, Holm recalled meeting Bush at the Capitol years ago.
“I went to his inauguration in 1989 and I met him... right outside the Capitol here shortly thereafter,” said Holm, a North Dakota native who now lives in Alexandria, Virginia. “He was a war hero... They don’t make many like him.” Bush was a Navy aviator during World War II.
Julie Dudley, who worked for former Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tennessee, in the 1980s, and Jennifer Kochard, who worked in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget when Bush was vice president, drove Monday morning from Charlottesville, Virginia, roughly two and a half hours from Washington.
During the Bush administration, Dudley said, “both the House and Senate were in Democratic hands then and yet [Bush] got so much accomplished.”
”I couldn’t wait to come and pay my respects to this man,” Kochard said.
In an interview off the closed street where lines to see the president were growing steadily Tuesday morning, Jack McGirl, a New York City native who worked for the FBI from 1969 to 1997, recalled meeting Bush to discuss a contact for his job at the FBI.
“I had a chance while I worked to deal with him and talk to him. He was vice president at that time, and he was welcoming to me… so I followed him ever since,” said McGirl, who now lives in Virginia. “He’s giving, he’s caring about people, and right now that’s what we need.”