HOUSTON, Texas (Nexstar) — The 41st president’s contributions to his adopted hometown of Houston left a lasting impact on the city. As the people of Houston prepare for President Bush to be escorted back to the city tomorrow, they’re also reflecting on several specific ways he helped with the growth of the city.
The George Bush Intercontinental Airport was named after the president in 1997.
“It’s been more than 20 years under his name,” said Bill Begley, public information officer for the Houston Airport System. “In that time, we’ve watched this airport grow to the point where we’re seeing 45 million passengers a year and 12 million of those are international.”
Begley said the growth is a reflection of Bush’s influence not only on the country but also on the world. President Bush was present for several big events at the airport and also attended its 40th-anniversary celebration.
“He was here in 1969 when this airport opened and there was just two concourses,” Begley said. “Now we have five concourses.”
Bush’s connection to aviation is also documented inside the airport, with a gallery showing his time as a naval aviator and his experiences skydiving.
“He continued his love of aviation all through his life,” Begley said. “He skydived to celebrate his 80th, 85th and 90th birthday, so that aviation spirit is something that pushes people to reach for more, to try to do more. That commitment to public service, that commitment to excellence is evident in his life and it’s something we try to mirror here at the Houston airport.”
People have stopped by Bush’s statue throughout the last few days to pay their respects, leaving flowers and taking photos.
President Bush will lie in repose at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church starting Wednesday evening. His funeral service is on Thursday. After the funeral service, the Union Pacific Bush 4141 Locomotive will escort Bush to College Station to be buried alongside his wife and daughter.