'Courage of a warrior': George H.W. Bush remember by family, friends at Texas funeral

Former Secretary of State James Baker III gives a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church on Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston. Copyright David J. Phillip AP
Copyright David J. Phillip AP
By Dartunorro Clark with NBC News Politics
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A second funeral for the former president took place in Houston, with eulogies from longtime friend James Baker and grandson George P. Bush.


Former President George H.W. Bush was remembered by family and friends as a humble leader with the "courage of a warrior" at a second funeral at the St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston on Thursday.

James Baker, a close friend who served as Bush's secretary of state and chief of staff, delivered the first eulogy, sprinkling his tribute with humorous personal stories and praise for the former president as a man of strong faith and quiet humility.

"Yes, he had the courage of a warrior. But when the time came for prudence, he always maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker," Baker said, referring Bush's role in maintaining diplomacy after the Berlin Wall fell during his administration.

"He understood that humility toward, and not humiliation of, a fallen adversary was the very best path to peace."

Baker, who was with the president during his last days, also drew laughs from the audience when describing the heated discussions he would have with the president about domestic issues and world events.

"He would look at me and he'd say, 'Baker, if you're so smart, why am I president and you're not?' He was a leader and he knew it," Baker said.

Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was also honored Wednesday at a state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, which was attended by a host of world leaders and current and former presidents and first ladies.

The Thursday funeral is mainly for close friends to the former president and his family, who also attended Wednesday's service. Several of his granddaughters read from scripture during the beginning of the service.

Baker choked up toward the end of his eulogy, describing his friend as a consummate statesman.

"He was not considered a skilled speaker, but his deeds were quite eloquent—and he demonstrated their eloquence by carving them into the hard granite of history," he said.

"We rejoice...that you are safely tucked in now, and through the ages, with God's loving arms around you. Because our glory, George, was to have had you as our president, and as such a friend."

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