WASHINGTON – President Bush fondly remembered Tony Snow Thursday, telling mourners at Snow's funeral that the conservative commentator-turned-White House press secretary "amassed a rare record of accomplishment."
"He knew the job of a reporter was vigorous. He understood the profession and always treated it with respect," said Bush, who traveled to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to pay respects to his former lead spokesman, who died of colon cancer last Saturday.
His was a life that was "far too brief," the president said of Snow.
Bush was accompanied to the funeral on the campus of Catholic University by some familiar faces from earlier in his presidency, including former top adviser Karl Rove and one-time chief of staff Andrew Card. Row after row at the shrine was packed with family members and friends and associates, including White House correspondents.
An enlarged photo of Snow was displayed, showing him smiling at the press secretary's podium in the White House press room.
"We will always remember his wry sense of humor and abundant goodness. We will also remember he was lots of fun," Bush said.
A somber Bush had a special message for Snow's three children — Kendall, Robbie and Kristi. In a particularly poignant moment, he talked directly to them, noting he'd often called their father on the weekend seeking his advice, and just as often would find that he was helping his kids with homework or cheering them on the soccer field.
"He loved you a lot," Bush told the three children. "I hope you know we loved him a lot, too."
Bush flew by Marine One to Andrews Air Force Base directly from the site of the service and was traveling to California to inspect fire damage.
Snow was White House press secretary from May 2006 until last September. He was long a member of Washington's power circles, and a familiar face across the country, as a conservative commentator and an interviewer on TV and radio for Fox News.
In a homily, the Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, president of Catholic University, told the mourners: "The measure of this man's life can be found in his character, in his optimism, in his joy and humor, in his courage, in his passion for what was good and right, and in his love for God and family and neighbor and country. Tony Snow did not need a long life for us to measure. It was, rather, we who needed his life to be longer."
The sounds of "Amazing Grace" permeated the cavernous sanctuary during Communion.
Snow also is survived by his wife, Jill Ellen Walker, and his father, Jim Snow, and stepmother, Dottie Snow.