5,000 mourners pay respects to former first lady Barbara Bush at viewing

HOUSTON, Texas -- Thousands of mourners paid their respects to former first lady Barbara Bush on Friday.

George H.W. Bush was on hand for a time to personally greet the mourners. His daughter standing behind him, George H.W. Bush sat at the front of the cavernous sanctuary of St. Martin's Episcopal Church. He gazed up at the rose-draped casket holding his wife of 73 years.

After a few moments, an aide came forward to help Bush with his wheelchair, turning it so he faced the rest of the sanctuary. A string of mourners began to approach: adults and children, many of the women wearing his wife's favorite color, blue, and trademark pearls. He offered his hand and smiled as people shook it.

The silver casket was in the sanctuary behind a velvet rope.

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Former President George H.W. Bush greeting mourners as they pay their respects

By Friday evening, officials said around 5,000 people stopped by to pay their respects to Barbara Bush, wife of the nation's 41st president and mother of the nation's 43rd. Among them was Houston social worker Varney Johnson, who like other mourners said he wanted to honor her work supporting literacy.

"This woman dedicated her life to educating children," he said.

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Mourners remember Barbara Bush, Tom Abrahams has more.

Senator John Cornyn, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee were among those who visited St. Martin's Episcopal Church.

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Mourners remember Barbara Bush, Christine Dobbyn has more.

People commended Barbara Bush's dedication to literacy and education as they paid their final respects.

She and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, had long worshiped at the church, where mourners lined up hours ahead of the public event.

Many women wore blue, Mrs. Bush's favorite color, and pearls, her go-to neckwear jewelry.

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This Associated Press contributed to this report.
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