HOUSTON – Family, friends and dignitaries from around the world made Saturday’s funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush an unprecedented celebration of life.
It was also historic for the city of Houston.
“This is the first time at least in my memory that we have had four presidents in Houston. I can’t recall another time,” said Mark Jones, a political historian at Rice University’s Baker Institute.
“When you get all these presidents together, it symbolizes the fact that we are all Americans. We’re Americans first and Democrats and Republicans second,” Jones said.
The former presidents in attendance will be George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
For many, it’s a fascinating gathering during this time of reflection and celebration.
“It is remarkable to see everybody coming together but I think this transcends politics and partisanship,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, following his visit to Barbara Bush’s wake Friday morning at St. Martin's Episcopal Church.
Nancy Beck Young, University of Houston presidential historian, said that as intriguing the gathering of the four presidents will be, it is also historic to see four former first ladies, including current first lady Melanie Trump, come together.
“If you think about this particular funeral and the celebration of Mrs. Bush’s life, one of the other first ladies ... going (is) her daughter-in-law Laura Bush, who observed White House life before she even knew her husband was even going to run for the presidency as a daughter-in-law,” Young said.
Here is a full list of the dignitaries and those attending the VIP reception:
First lady Melania Trump
Former President and Mrs. Bill Clinton
Former President and Mrs. Barack Obama
Former President George H.W. Bush
Former President and Mrs. George W. Bush
Doro and Bobby Koch
Former Gov. Jeb Bush and Columba Bush
Maria and Neil Bush
Margaret and Margaret Bush
Former Secretary Jim Baker and Susan Baker
Keith and Jon Meacham
Peter and Kiki Cheney
Susan Ford Bales
Lynda Johnson Robb and Sen. Chuck Robb
Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin
Tricia Nixon Cox and Edward Cox
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg
Grandchildren and their spouses
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Mrs. Cecilia Abbott
Sen. Lamar Alexander (education secretary in the George H.W. Bush administration)
- Serving as the senior U.S. senator from Tennessee, a seat he has held since 2003. A member of the Republican Party, he also was the 45th governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987 and the fifth U.S secretary of education from 1991 to 1993.
Secretary James Baker
- Was appointed secretary of state on Jan. 22, 1989, and served until Aug. 23, 1992.
Mrs. Susan Baker (eulogist)
The Honorable Nick Brady (treasury secretary in 41 administration)
- U.S. secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and is also known for articulating the Brady Plan in March 1989.
The Honorable Andy Card
- White House chief of staff under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, as well as head of Bush's White House Iraq Group. Card served as U.S. secretary of transportation under President George H. W. Bush from 1992 to 1993.
Rev. Kathleene Card
Vice President Dick Cheney (defense secretary in 41 administration)
- 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009.
- Cheney was selected to be the secretary of defense during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, holding the position for the majority of Bush's term from 1989 to 1993.
Mrs. Lynne Cheney
- Wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney
Sen. Susan Collins
- U.S. senator from Maine, a seat she was first elected to in 1996.
- “I first met Mrs. Bush in 1994 when I was running for governor, and she campaigned with me. Since that time, I have been fortunate to have had her as a friend as well as a stalwart supporter. Every summer for more than 20 years, I have visited President and Mrs. Bush at their Kennebunkport home. It was always one of the highlights of the year. I shall miss those delightful visits with her.”
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler
- Lobbyist, former politician and member of the Republican Party who served as the 46th governor of Michigan from 1991 to 2003.
- Engler endorsed Texas governor George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary. After Bush secured the GOP nomination, Engler's name began to surface as a possible running mate for Bush.
Mrs. Michelle Engler
Former Secretary Barbara Franklin (commerce secretary in 41 administration)
- She served as the 29th U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 1992-1993 to President George H.W. Bush, during which she led a Presidential mission to China.
Former Secretary Bob Gates (CIA director in 41 administration)
- Robert Michael "Bob" Gates is an American statesman, scholar, and university president who served as the 22nd U.S. secretary of defense from 2006 to 2011. He was originally appointed by President George W. Bush, but was retained for service by President Barack Obama.
- May 14, 1991 - President George H.W. Bush nominates Gates to succeed Webster as director of the CIA.
- Gates came to Texas A&M in 1999 as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. In 2002, he became the 22nd president of Texas A&M
Mrs. Becky Gates
Former Ambassador Boyden Gray (White House counsel for 41 as vice president and president)
- He was White House counsel in the administration of President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) and earlier served as legal counsel to Vice President Bush (1981-1989).
- Later served as ambassador in Brussels
Former British Minister Sir John Major
- Sir John Major KG CH is a British politician who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997.
- Exchanged letters with the president from 1990-1993, according to BBC.
Dame Norma Major
Former Maine Gov. Jock McKernan
- Was governor of the Maine, the Pine Tree State, from 1987 to 1995, after being a member of the U.S. House from 1983 to 1987. He is the husband of former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.
- Went to a Christmas party at the White House with George W. Bush in 2002.
Senator Olympia Snowe
- U.S. Senator from Maine from 1995 to 2013.
- Snowe angered the conservative wing of her party with votes against a ban on partial birth abortions. The measure passed, and President George W. Bush signed the legislation — introduced in the Senate by Rick Santorum — into law in 2003.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
- The President met with Canadian prime minister Mulroney three weeks after taking office.
- April 1990: Mulroney and George H.W. Bush threw out the first pitch at a Blue Jays game.
Mrs. Mila Mulroney
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (White House staffer in 41 administration)
- He worked briefly in the White House during the George H.W. Bush administration before entering the U.S. House of Representatives
- Recent interview : “Jane and I were blessed to get to know Barbara Bush when I worked for President George H.W. Bush in the White House and she has been a friend ever since.”
- A radio commercial Mrs. Bush recorded for his first congressional campaign in 1993 “was key to my winning that first election. She was never hesitant to offer encouragement and candid advice.”
Mrs. Jane Portman
Former Vice President Dan Quayle
- 44th vice president of the United States (1989–93) in the Republican administration of President George H.W. Bush.
- He previously represented Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives (1977–81) and the U.S. Senate (1981–89).
- Quayle sought the Republican nomination for president in 2000 — against George W. Bush. Withdrew from race in September 1999
Mrs. Marylin Quayle
- Second lady of the United States 1989–1993
- During the 1992 presidential campaign, Marilyn Quayle was an active campaigner, delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention and spending more than 40 days on the campaign trail.
Dr. Condoleeza Rice (NSC Staffer in 41 administration)
- Rice served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and Eastern Europe Affairs Advisor to President George H.W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification from 1989 to 1991.
Mrs. Ann Romney
- Wife of Mitt Romney
- Mitt Romney received an endorsement from former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush during 2012 meeting.
- 2012 former first lady Barbara Bush said Ann Romney will make the "greatest" first lady, next to her daughter
- Mitt Romney Twitter: “Barbara raised a family of service & character, stood by her beloved husband in the best & worst of times, and spoke her convictions with courage & passion. The great first lady of our times. Ann and I will profoundly miss her friendship, her compassion, & the twinkle of her eye.”
Gen. Brent Scowcroft
- Retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general who was the U.S. national security adviser under U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush
- 1991: Scowcroft was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President George H.W. Bush.
- Former head of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during the President George W. Bush administration.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson
- Retired Wyoming Sen. Al Simpson, and his wife Ann were close friends with the Bushes. They often spent holidays with them.
- KCWY: Simpson was on the list to be Bush’s running mate when he ran for president in 1988.
- Simpson said, “We fished together, we hunted together, we traveled together. We feel very privileged, and you’d never want to abuse that friendship, but it was glorious.”
- KCWY: Called and spoke with Barbara Bush the day before she died.
- Barbara Bush was still upbeat, when the Simpsons called.
- Al Simpson repeated the conversation, “Oh, Al and Ann. How are you? Good to hear you. How is everything? How are the kids?"
Mrs. Ann Simpson
- Inside Nova (Virginia newspaper) August 1983: How they met - Simpson and Barbara took a gentle boat ride on nearby Lake McDonald in Wyoming, among other scenic stops arranged by Glacier Park’s staff.
- Ann Simpson calls the second Bush president, George W. Bush, one of “the children.”
- She spent many hours in Washington, D.C. with Barbara Bush when they were raising children.
Former Secretary Sam Skinner (transportation secretary in 41 administration)
- Los Angeles Times: Samuel K. Skinner's friends say, that his favorite Chinese restaurant is the one frequented by George Bush.
- Los Angeles Times: Skinner had picture in his office of him and 41 eating chocolate chip cookies
- Bush's Illinois campaign director in 1988
- was dispatched by Bush to deal with the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.
Mrs. Honey Skinner
- Los Angeles TIMES: went out of their way to befriend Bush's daughter, Dorothy, when she moved alone to Washington.
The Honorable Louis Sullivan (HHS secretary in 41 administration)
- Served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Cabinet of President George H.W. Bush from 1989-1993.
Mrs. Ginger Sullivan
- Sullivan served on the White House Fellows Selection Panel for three years, 1990-93.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (White House chief of staff)
- Served as the 75th Governor of New Hampshire (1983–89) and later White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush.
- In a recent interview said they were close friends until the end, even having a meal with the Bush family recently.
- Talking about Barbara: “He said the character he'll miss most is her laugh.”
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson
- Thompson is close friends with the Bush family. He has campaigned with George H.W. Bush — and from 2001 to 2004, served as health and human services secretary for George W. Bush.
Mrs. Sue Ann Thompson
- After Tommy Thompson left the governor's office in 2001 to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Bush Administration, Sue Ann's continued to use her own connections and skills to help the citizens of Wisconsin, including a major commitment to serve as the president of the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation.
Judge Bill Webster (CIA director in 41 administration)
- Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II—Bush 41 also was in the Navy at this time
- CIA director Under Bush 41
Mrs. Lynda Webster
- Her charity (Webster Group) raised over $22 million for the dedication of the Pentagon Memorial by President W. Bush
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Texas
- representative since 2013
- North Texas chairman for the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign,
- Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001 to be chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee’s Eagles Program.