Houston cantina photos capture Barbara Bush's zest for life and love of children

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At Molina's Cantina in Houston, memories of George and Barbara Bush abound. (KTRK)

At Molina's Cantina on Westheimer, Barbara Bush's image is not only hanging on the wall, but weighing heavily on the minds of workers.

The Bushes were among many Houstonians who have visited the restaurant over the years, but server Leo Mendoza said he will never forget the face of the former first lady.

"She was always smiling," Mendoza said. "She would ask me for everything. She was a nice lady."

Her bright smile impressed so many people who met her, not the high and mighty, but regular folks.

A photo hangs at the restaurant of the last time the Bushes came to Molina's to dine on their favorite cheese enchiladas. Manager Maria Sanchez took the image.

"I took a picture of Mrs. Bush and Mr. Bush surrounded by children, and that's one of the memories I have here, and it's in our main dining room," Sanchez said.

The former first couple was glad to do it. Mrs. Bush loved to be around children.

Mrs. Bush would read Christmas stories to an audience of kids during the holiday season with J.J. Watt. Literacy has been a cause for her.

She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for family literacy, just one of the ways she gave back, influencing others like Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, who knows her as a friend.

"The type of person who'd light up a room, treated everybody the same, whether it was the person serving or the biggest person in the room," McIngvale said. "She was a force for good in our community and for years has been a shining example for us to try to emulate."

A gracious, giving person who has made an impression on so many outside of the halls of power, to a restaurant where she and her husband posed for pictures, shook hands, and made people feel very special.

"And sit in our dining room with everybody else, just very humbling. An amazing lady."

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