Saying Goodbye: Las Vegas remembers George H.W. Bush

The valley joins the nation in mourning the loss of Americas 41st president. (KSNV)

The nation said goodbye Wednesday, Dec. 5, to America's 41st president.

George Herbert Walker Bush, 94, received a state funeral in the nation’s capital following his death Friday night, Nov. 30, in Texas.

Wednesday’s service at the National Cathedral brought together the current occupant of the White House, the three living former presidents and much of official Washington.

At the Veterans of Foreign Wars post near Nellis, they said goodbye to a president who was one of them.

“He walked right out of high school and went into the service, became a fighter pilot, and you have to give him credit,” said Lt. Col. Tom Reyes, U.S. Army (retired), who was sitting with fellow vets at the bar around noon.

Bush was one of the youngest pilots America had in World War II.

His service then means something now to Army vet Leonard Smith.

“We lose over 1,200 World War II vets a day. Our greatest generation by far. Without them we wouldn't be here right now,” Smith said.

Bush would make the journey form pilot to president.

In his four years in the White House, he would manage the collapse of communism.

He would also breakdown barriers for people with disabilities.

On his watch in July of 1990, he signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which guarantees people with disabilities equal access.

Thanks to Bush, at UNLV, "if you were looking at schools and you had mobility needs and accessibility needs, you couldn’t find a better place," said Bryan Hilbert, director of the university’s Disability Resource Center, which helps 1,800 students.

Hilbert reflects on the president, who at the end of his life, needed a wheelchair and a service dog.

“He was a person who, at the height of his power, took time to invest in those that had often been forgotten, and near the end of his life got to be a direct beneficiary of those changes,” Hilbert says.

Wednesday was a national day of mourning.

In Henderson, at the Paseo Verde Library, News 3 met Lori Jurado, while nearby the flag flew at half-staff.

“I will remember him as one of our kindest presidents,” she said.

Many of the local residents were young children when Bush was in the White House.

Christina Lund was in junior high.

“He was a good guy. I loved the relationship that he had with his wife,” she said. “They always seemed like a really cute couple, good grandparents that you want to have.”

Others lamented what they saw as the passing of a different America.

“He was a great man. I don't know if we'll ever have that anymore. Is there honesty anymore? You know? I don't know,” said Helen Kazmierczak.

So, America and the valley say goodbye to a president from another era, when Washington and politics were kinder and gentler.

After services in Washington, Bush’s body was flown back to Texas where he will be buried Thursday, Dec. 6, next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April.

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