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Massachusetts Mourns The Loss Of President George H.W. Bush

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A man pays his respects to a memorial outside the birthplace of former President George H. W. Bush in Milton, MA.
Saraya Wintersmith/WGBH News

As the nation mourns the loss of former President George H.W. Bush, some in Massachusetts are paying their respects at the Milton house where his life began.

More than a dozen people showed up to Bush's birthplace on Sunday, a blue-grey and green-trimmed house on Adams Street. Some slowed their cars to glimpse at the memorial marker and snap a picture through their windows. Others, like Matt Westover, pulled over and got a closer look despite the rain and cold.

"He was a great man and we wanted to honor his life and come see his house," said Westover, a Boston resident who had his teenaged daughter in tow.

Read more: George H.W. Bush: The Man In The Middle

"You don't often get to see the birthplace of a president," he said, mentioning the Bush family's connections in both New England and Texas. Bush, who was 94, died in Houston, Texas late Friday. "This kind of brings history to real life, rather than just in print."

"It is very special that he was born here and that we can say he's a native son," said West Roxbury resident Jordanna Feely.

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A memorial outside the birthplace of former President George H. W. Bush in Milton, MA.
Saraya Wintersmith/WGBH News

Feely said Bush was the first presidential candidate she cast a ballot for, and recalled his single term as one marked by diplomacy and bipartisanship. Prominent public figures remembered the former president similarly.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, whose U.S. Senate career overlapped with Bush's terms as vice president and president, said Bush had a keen eye for compromise, an art Kerry said he considers to be lost in Washington.

"He knew how to govern by bringing people to the table and the people in Congress today do not respect that process," Kerry told WGBH News. "They don't live that way, and it's hurting our democracy. I believe that people could learn a great lesson from the way President Bush carried himself, particularly members of the Republican Party."

Kerry was attending a funeral service for the late Democratic strategist John Marttila in Back Bay on Sunday. He said both Marttila and Bush approached politics with decency and an ear toward the needs of others.

Read more: President George H.W. Bush: A Life In Pictures

Gov. Charlie Baker told WGBH News on Sunday that he admired Bush's manners and his ability to make friends across the political spectrum.

"The work that he and former President Clinton did in so many humanitarian causes, working together after they had both served as president, I think was a clear indication of that fact that that this was somebody who at the end of the day, believed he was an American first and everything else came after that," Baker said.

Baker said he appreciates the many people who have traveled to Bush's birthplace and honor his connection to Massachusetts.

Bush's body is scheduled to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol until a Wednesday funeral service at the National Cathedral. After that, he will be buried in Texas on the grounds of his namesake presidential library beside his wife, Barbara, who died earlier this year, and their daughter, Robin.

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