Viewings and visit by the Bushes begin week of mourning

Viewings and visit by the Bushes begin week of mourning
Former President George W. Bush hugs Billy Graham as Laura Bush looks on during a 2010 book signing at the Billy Graham Library. (Credit: Observer file photo)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Tim Funk/The Charlotte Observer) - Former President George W. Bush and everyday people in and around Charlotte will get a chance early this week to pay their last respects to Billy Graham, whose body will lie in repose in the home he lived in as a teenager.

The closed casket will be on display Monday and Tuesday in a corner of the Graham homestead, which was built in 1927 on the family's dairy farm on Park Road and was moved to the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in 2006.

These public viewings will be the start of another week of mourning the loss of the Charlotte-born evangelist and celebrating a life spent preaching the Gospel around the world.

Graham pastored several U.S. presidents, including Bush, the 43rd president, and his father, George H.W. Bush, the 41st. The younger Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush will offer tribute to Graham at about 3 p.m. Monday at the library bearing Graham's name.

The Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is expecting long lines of Graham admirers to file past the casket Monday and Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. Those wanting to view Graham's casket will be shuttled from two off-site locations: the parking lots at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center, 7100 Forest Point Blvd. in south Charlotte, and Charlotte Valet Business Lot 2 (self-parking) at 5613 Wilkinson Blvd. The shuttles are free and will run from 7:30 a.m to 9:30 p.m.

The casket will then be flown by private jet to Washington, where Graham's body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, back at the Billy Graham Library, an invitation-only funeral service will be held at noon under a massive tent in the library parking lot. President Donald Trump will be among the 2,300 guests, the White House confirmed Sunday by releasing his schedule for the week.

After the funeral, in a private ceremony, Graham will be buried on the library grounds, at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway. He'll be laid to rest next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.