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Maine chaplain to play big role in George H.W. Bush's funeral

Thursday morning, President Bush will have a private funeral in Houston, and the Bushes’ long-time chaplain from Maine will play a big role. (WGME)

HOUSTON (WGME) -- Thursday morning, President Bush will have a private funeral in Houston, and the Bushes’ long-time chaplain from Maine will play a big role.

While President and Mrs. Bush spent Sundays at St. Martin's in Houston, for decades, during their summers in Kennebunkport, they would attend Sunday services at St. Ann's.

The church and its chaplain held a special place in their heart, one that will be extended to Houston for Thursday’s services.

Chaplain Peter Cheney has known the Bushes since joining St. Ann's in 2002.

"They've been loyal members and supporters, just as they do with everyone else, they treat all of us,” Cheney said. “We're all human peers."

The beautiful stone Episcopal chapel was attended by the Bushes every summer for decades.

"When St. Ann's was open, those 15 Sundays, they were there,” Cheney said. “And then toward the end when they became frail, we would go by with communion and visit with them a little bit."

That close connection brings Cheney to Houston, where he'll help preside over the President's funeral, just as he did for Barbara back in April.

"Each of us was important to them, and they were enormously important to us,” Cheney said. “And I've just felt back in April and now, just waves of sadness."

It’s a feeling Cheney says he hopes to channel, as he chooses the right prayers and comments to help send off a man he can only describe as "kind."

"He seems to be the last of a generation, not that we all don't try to be kind, but for a person to be a public leader of that stature and to have to make such difficult decisions and to remain kind, that to me is just amazing," Cheney said.

Chaplain Cheney says after Thursday's funeral at St. Martin's, he will also be helping at the burial site in College Station.

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