Melania Trump attended the funeral of Barbara Bush on Saturday with two very special guests by her side: private resident staffers who had worked under the former first lady during her years in the White House.
“Mrs. Trump brought George Hainey, former head Maître D’at the White House, and Buddy Carter, a current butler, to the funeral with her as invited guests,” White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham told PEOPLE. “She knew they were very close to the Bush family and wanted them to be able to pay their respects.”
Bush, who died at 92 on Tuesday, was laid to rest by her large and loving family on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Melania, 47, was at the services alongside Bush’s family, as well as former presidents and first ladies Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were accompanied by their daughter, Chelsea Clinton.
President Trump was not in attendance. He previously sent his condolences in a statement on Tuesday and at a press conference on Wednesday, calling Barbara Bush a “wonderful, wonderful person” and “a titan in American life.”
The commander-in-chief, 71, also shared a photo of a tribute to Bush set up in the White House.
“Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bush family,” he wrote in the post’s caption. “In memory of First Lady Barbara Bush, there is a remembrance display located at her portrait in the Center Hall of the @WhiteHouse.”
A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on Apr 21, 2018 at 8:59am PDT
Trump was in Florida on Saturday, where he spent the morning at his West Palm Beach golf club. He then returned to the Trump National Golf Club Mar a Lago to watch the funeral, turning it on just as the first lady was taking her seat, as is protocol beside former President Barack Obama.
“Heading to the Southern White House to watch the Funeral Service of Barbara Bush,” he wrote on Twitter. “First Lady Melania has arrived in Houston to pay our respects. Will be a beautiful day!”
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Saturday’s service, which was by invitation only, was held at the church that Mrs. Bush and her husband attended regularly through the years, according to the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation.
It was an emotional day as Mrs. Bush’s husband of 73 years, former President George H.W. Bush, and her children, former President George W., Jeb, Dorothy, Neil and Marvin, said their final farewells at a funeral service for the family matriarch.
Mrs. Bush also leaves behind her brother, Scott Pierce, 17 grandchildren — including George W. and Laura Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, who also attended the funeral along with their mother — and seven great-grandchildren.
The White House announced that Trump would not be attending the funeral “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family.” Trump thought it may be a distraction for the Bush family.