Well-wishers line up at Barbara Bush’s gravesite in College Station


Jason Dedrick and his husband, Patrick Lukingbeal, passed through College Station Monday.

They were headed home to Houston with their newly adopted infant son, JJ. But on their way to start a new life with a new baby, they stopped to visit a gravesite.

Barbara Bush, who died last week at 92, was buried Saturday at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the Texas A&M campus. The burial site was open to visitors for the first time Monday morning, and by the time the doors opened, the line to see it was already 30 deep. Well-wishers such as Dedrick and Lukingbeal trickled through the museum all day, coming from Houston, San Antonio and elsewhere to pay their respects.

“We’re actually Democrats, but we have a lot of respect for the Bush family and their integrity and their value system,” said Dedrick, a 32-year-old Texas A&M graduate.


Dedrick, who teaches fifth-graders in Houston ISD, said he also appreciated Barbara Bush’s’ dedication to literacy and education: “I know she spent a lot of time raising millions and millions of dollars for children.”

Museum attendance has jumped since Bush’s death on April 17, said Jason Anaya, spokesman for the library and museum. Last week, nearly 5,000 people passed through the museum in the five days it was open – a “sharp increase,” he said.

About 1,600 of those visitors arrived on Sunday, when the burial site was not yet open to the public; a long line of people waited outside, only to be denied access to the grave.

On Twitter, Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath offered “deep apologies for the confusion and inconvenience.”

Some bad information got posted on a memorial website, Anaya said. The gravesite’s availability Sunday depended on good weather, he said — and when weekend rain pushed back the opening, that information didn’t get relayed to everyone.



Even so, Anaya said, visitors stayed and walked the grounds, “paying their respects, coming in, signing condolence books.”

The gravesite itself is some distance behind the museum, near a pond on the property. Just past a wooden bridge, the Bush family plot is surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.

The former first lady is buried next to her daughter Robin, who died in 1953 at the age of 3. (Robin was originally buried in Greenwich, Conn., but her grave was moved to College Station in 2000 to a new family plot at the Bush presidential library.)

On Monday, fresh flowers could be found everywhere, from dramatic sprays near the grave to the pearl-strewn rose wreaths that hung on an entrance gate.

Larry Miller and his wife, Betty Miller, live just outside Bryan. They went to College Station Saturday to watch the motorcade arrive at the burial site after Bush’s funeral service in Houston, and they came back to see the grave on Monday.

“We just decided we wanted to go by and pay our respects today,” said Miller, 70. “Today was a beautiful day to be there.”

Until recent years, the Bushes visited College Station so often they felt a bit like neighbors, said Miller, who admired the couple’s down-to-earth quality.

“I think they were really good people,” he said. “What you see is what you get. And they were just about as ordinary as someone like the President of the United States can be.”

On Tuesday, the museum and gravesite will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. with free admission. The museum returns to its normal hours Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a $9 admission charge for adults. (Admission for students, youth, kids, seniors and members of the military is discounted or free.)

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