HOUSTON (Nexstar) — Friends, family and top leaders gathered for an intimate funeral service in President George H.W. Bush’s Houston church. Shuttles transported them from Second Baptist Church to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church early Thursday morning. 

Lynn Hughes, who met Bush when he was 23 years old, viewed the 41st president as a mentor and a friend. He attended the private service with his wife. Bush’s guidance was critical in shaping his future. He volunteered for all of Bush’s campaigns.  

“I didn’t look all that promising,” he said. “Let’s face it. I was young, a little less goofy than I am now.” 

Former First Lady Barbara Bush’s “rigorous love” and President Bush’s “generosity” is something he will never forget. 

“He gave me lots of serious advice,” Hughes said. “Barbara gave me a lot of serious advice. It’s a whole package of talent, ability, dedication and skill that suffused with a genuine caring of people.” 

Bush’s humor shined a light on a somber day to reflect and remember the president’s service. Hughes joked Bush was able to cram three lives into one. 

“He just exuded everything my grandmother would’ve wanted me to be,” Hughes said. 

Claire Pickart, who worked for Bush’s administration, said everything he did made the people around him feel like such a part of his life. 

“We all devoted our lives to this president because we felt just so honored to be a part of his administration,” she said. “It was a true privilege.” 

Retired Army Chief War Officer Patrick Southern said Bush always cared deeply about service members and it was evident from the stories he heard from the administration and what he experienced in the military. 

“George Bush had our back,” Southern said. “He cared about every one of us. When there was a fatality, it showed for him. It really broke his heart and when you have that kind of love and care from a president, you want to do anything for him. And we all did.” 

The Union Pacific “Bush 4141” Locomotive is pulling the funeral train approximately 70 miles from the Houston area to College Station, where Bush will be buried alongside his wife and daughter.