Former President George W. Bush pays final respects to Rev. Graham

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, came to Charlotte on Monday to pay their respects to Rev. Billy Graham.

A spokesperson for the Bush family said the two would not be able to make Graham’s funeral on Friday because they were unable to break a longstanding scheduling commitment.

The Bush family arrived at the Billy Graham Library around 3:45 p.m. and spent about 30 minutes inside the Graham Family Homeplace with Rev. Franklin Graham.

[Photos: Billy Graham was counselor to presidents]

[Billy Graham gave more than prayer to presidents]

After the visit, Bush made a brief statement, calling Graham a humble shepherd of the Lord, and said he was blessed to have met him.

Bush also said that he brought greetings with him from his father and mother, former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. He said that the elder Bush and Billy Graham were "great buddies."

George H.W. Bush and his wife were not able to travel to Charlotte for Graham’s funeral because of health issues.

Graham had a close relationship with the Bush family. George H.W. Bush said that the pastor's presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, "even for a second ... (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night."

Years later, his son, George W. Bush, recalled in an interview with Focus on the Family that he'd been drunk the first time he met Billy Graham at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. The two went for a walk that launched Bush's rejection of alcohol and embrace of Christianity.

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