George W. Bush Gives Eulogy At Father's Funeral: 'Best Father A Son Or Daughter Could Have'

Former President George W. Bush gave a touching eulogy for his father, George H.W. Bush, at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday, remembering his father as a humble servant and the “best father a son or daughter could have.”

In his eulogy for his father, the eldest Bush son, who went on to follow in his father’s footsteps and become president, spoke proudly of his father, who passed away on Friday at the age of 94.

“When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great president of the United States: a diplomat of unmatched skill, a commander-in-chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor,” Bush said of his father.

“He was a genuinely optimistic man,” Bush said.

Recounting stories of his father, as other eulogists did, bringing smiles to the faces of those in attendance, Bush acknowledged that his father “wasn’t perfect.”

“The man couldn’t stomach vegetables,” particularly broccoli, Bush said, adding it was a trait he had passed on to his children.

Like the other eulogists, Bush talked about his father’s zest for life, saying that the oldest Bush’s desire to live each day to its fullest stemmed from two near-death experiences earlier in his life — an illness in his youth and when, as a Navy aviator, his plane was shot down in the Pacific during World War II, The Huffington Post reports.

“He taught us that a day was not to be wasted,” Bush said, noting that the oldest Bush always speedily played through a game of golf. “He played fast so he could move on to the next event, to enjoy the rest of the day, to expand his enormous energy.”

“He was born with two settings,” Bush continued. “Full throttle, then sleep.”

Though George H.W. Bush was born into a privileged family, his son said the oldest Bush “could relate to people of all walks of life,” HuffPost reports.

“He valued character over pedigree and he was no cynic. He looked for the good in each person and he usually found it,” he said. “In victory, he shared credit. When he lost he shouldered the blame. He accepted that failure is a part of living a full life but taught us to never be defined by failure.”

As the eldest Bush son neared the end of his speech, he briefly shed tears as he described his father as the “best father a son of daughter could have.”

Bush said his father taught him “what it means to be a great husband” and was a man to aspire to be.

He spoke of a conversation he had with his father, which happened to be his father’s last words on earth.

“Dad, I love you and you’ve been a wonderful father,” Bush said he told his father.

“And the last words he would ever say on earth were ‘I love you, too,’” he said.

The other eulogists from Bush’s U.S. state funeral spoke highly of him, with former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who spoke of Bush as a world leader, saying that “every single person knew you were dealing with a gentleman.”

Former Wyoming GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, an old friend of the oldest Bush, said the former president “never hated anyone,” adding that he “never lost” his sense of good humor, despite never being able to remember a punch line, ABC News reports.

“Humor is a universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life,” Simpson said. “That’s what humor is.”

Historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, who delivered the first eulogy, told a story of a 20-year-old George H.W. Bush’s plane being shot down during World War II. Meacham said the former president often asked, “Why me? Why was I spared?” The Bush biographer said rest of Bush’s life, what he did and accomplished, was the proof that he was worthy of salvation.

“America’s last great soldier-statesman,” Meacham said of the former president. “An imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union.”

After the church service, the president’s remains were transported to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington D.C. for the flight to Texas, where a funeral service will be held at the St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, ABC News reports. Bush’s remains will then be transported by train to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University, where he will be laid to rest with his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, who passed away at the age of 92 in April, and their daughter Robin, who passed away at the age of three from leukemia.