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Lady Bird Johnson laid to rest beside husband

Cortege of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson through Johnson City, Texas.
The hearse carrying former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, a devoted preservationist, travels through Johnson City, Texas, on its way to the Johnson family ranch in Stonewall, Texas, on Sunday.Rex C. Curry / EPA
/ Source: The Associated Press

Lady Bird Johnson arrived at her final resting place beneath a canopy of oak trees Sunday, beside the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the family’s ranch in the Texas Hill Country.

Relatives and close friends of the Johnsons said a final goodbye to the former first lady near the banks of the Pedernales River.

Johnson, who died Wednesday at 94, was remembered as an astute businesswoman, a woman who worked to preserve nature and the devoted wife of a president.

“She always seemed to be wondering if she had done enough for the world, regardless of her own condition,” grandson Lyndon Nugent said at the burial service.

Thousands of admirers, many clutching bundles of the wildflowers she loved, had lined streets in Austin and roads in the Hill Country earlier Sunday as her body was brought from the state capital to the LBJ Ranch, about 70 miles west of Austin.

Members of the crowd applauded and cheered as the procession passed through downtown Austin, and a few women blew kisses. Others flashed the University of Texas “hook ’em Horns” sign with their fingers for Johnson, who attended the university and was once a UT System regent. Her husband’s presidential library is at UT-Austin.

About 50 motorcycle policemen escorted the navy blue hearse, which had a cluster of little orange wildflowers on top. Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson, and their families followed in two limousines and waved to the crowd.

Outside Austin, people gathered along highways and in little towns, many holding American flags, some clutching wildflowers and some holding umbrellas against the hot sun.

Wildflowers and a sign reading “Thank You Lady Bird” adorned a tractor. Another sign read “God Bless a Great Woman.”

More people lined the streets of Johnson City, President Johnson’s boyhood home, and the main street was lined with little Texas and American flags stuck in flower pots.

'The passing of an era'
In Austin, retiree Kate Hill handed out sunflowers from her garden to people waiting for the procession. Hill said Johnson’s work inspired her to convert her grassy lawn into an expanse of wildflowers and other native plants, and she wanted to thank the former first lady for the beauty.

“It’s the passing of an era,” said Sarah Macias, 48, who works for the city’s parks department and came to watch with her husband and a co-worker.

Three days of ceremonies had started Friday with family prayer services and a public visitation at the LBJ Library and Museum. More than 11,500 people paid their respects over nearly 22 hours.

About 1,800 people, including family, friends and presidents, attended a two-hour funeral Saturday at Riverbend Centre overlooking the Hill Country. People attended included former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, first lady Laura Bush and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.