A major moment occurred at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Saturday when former presidents, their wives, and current first lady Melania Trump gathered to say goodbye to the former first lady Barbara Bush. The matriarch of the Bush family passed away at the age of 92 on Tuesday.
Richard Grenell, formerly the U.S. spokesman at the United Nations and the national security spokesman for Mitt Romney, shared a historic photo gathering almost all of the living former presidents — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George H.W. Bush — and first ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama. Also joining the photo? Current first lady Melania Trump, posing arm in arm with Michelle. The group is smiling and relaxed, likely after the celebration of Barbara Bush’s life.
Only Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter are missing from the photo. “President and Mrs. Carter regret that they are unable to attend,” the Carter Center in Atlanta said in a statement. “President Carter will be on a private trip overseas, and although she is recovering, Mrs. Carter is not yet able to travel following her recent intestinal surgery.”
Melania Trump was not joined by her husband, President Trump, who decided not to attend to “avoid disruptions.” Sitting presidents are not normally expected to attend services for former first ladies.
Photos of former presidents and first ladies aren’t that common and are often taken at funerals. Back in 2011 George W. Bush, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, former first lady Nancy Reagan, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter gathered for a photo before the funeral of former first lady Betty Ford at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif. They’re pictured with members of the Ford family.
Melania Trump honored former first lady Barbara Bush with several touching posts on her Instagram account. Of the service, she wrote, “What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman.”
She also shared a photo showing Texas law enforcement on the tarmac in Houston, thanking them for “keeping everyone safe today.”
And, in a truly thoughtful move, she took with her to the funeral several White House staffers who had served in the first Bush administration.
“Mrs. Trump brought George Hainey, former head maître d’ at the White House, and Buddy Carter, a current butler, to the funeral with her as invited guests,” White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said. “She knew they were very close to the Bush family and wanted them to be able to pay their respects.”