- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, along with more than a thousand other mourners, attended an emotional funeral in Northeast Washington on Thursday for Tony Snow, the former White House spokesman who died Saturday of cancer.

“Tony Snow was a man of uncommon decency and compassion,” Mr. Bush said in remarks to a crowd of family, friends, politicians, Bush administration officials and journalists inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the Catholic University campus.

Mr. Bush, near the beginning of a nearly two-hour funeral that included a Catholic Mass, began to tear up when he said Mr. Snow, who died at 53, was “simply irreplaceable.”

The president’s voice also wavered when he looked at Mr. Snow’s three young children, ages 11 to 16, and said, “He talked about you all the time.”

“I used to call Tony on the weekends to get his advice, and invariably I found him with you on the soccer field or at a swim meet or helping you with your homework,” Mr. Bush told the children, Kendall, Robbie and Kristi. “He loved you a lot. Today I hope you know we loved him a lot, too.”

“I know it’s hard to make sense of today,” Mr. Bush said. “It is impossible to fully comprehend why such a good and vital man was taken from us so soon. But these are the great mysteries of life, and Tony knew as well as anyone that they’re not ours to unveil.”

Mr. Snow’s widow, Jill, sat with her children, at times dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief.

Mr. Snow‘s replacement at the White House, Dana Perino, was overwhelmed by grief at the end of the service, leaving the church in tears.

Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, also attended, as did former top Bush administration officials Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, Andy Card and Mr. Snow’s predecessor, Scott McClellan, who is on the outs with his former colleagues after writing a book critical of the president.

Mr. Snow was White House press secretary from May 2006 to September 2007.

The top Republican leadership on Capitol Hill attended: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, along with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.

Among the more than 100 reporters, many of whom worked with Mr. Snow during his time at the White House, were CBS News’ Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer, as well as a large contingent from Fox News Channel, including President Roger Ailes and talk-show host Bill O’Reilly. Mr. Snow worked as a television and radio host at the cable news channel for several years.

Mr. Snow’s younger brother, Steven Snow, said he had shared a room with his elder sibling for 17 years.

He saw his brother read the dictionary every day to learn a new word and push himself to perform in plays and in musical bands to get over his “constitutionally shy” personality.

“Most of all, I’ll remember him as someone who loved life, who loved the family in which he was raised, loved his wife and children, loved his friends, and was optimistic in the face of difficulty to the last,” Steven Snow said, his voice breaking.

“Especially I’ll remember that smile. What a smile. It said, I am here. I am enjoying being here. I am enjoying being with you,’” he said. “It was a smile that reached out to reassure you, even though he was not feeling well.”

Mr. Snow’s son, Robbie, gave a short recitation, reading from his father’s essay in Christianity Today magazine last year.

“What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” said Robbie, who spoke in a voice still in transition to maturity and looked in many ways like a miniature version of his father — thin, lanky, with a shock of dirty blond hair.

“We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place in the hollow of God’s hand,” Robbie said.

Mr. Snow grew up in Cincinnati and began his career as a journalist after earning a philosophy degree from Davidson College and teaching in Kenya and the United States. He went on to work on or run several newspaper editorial pages, including at The Washington Times, before becoming a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and Fox News star.

He also was known as a devoted husband and father. He loved music, playing flute, saxophone and guitar in a local band called Beats Workin’.

A neighbor and friend of Mr. Snow’s, Jay McConville, said that Mr. Snow would sometimes take his wife dancing.

“He danced with such joy,” Mr. McConville said. “They were partners. They were real partners.”

The Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, president of Catholic University, said that Mr. Snow was “destined to live a whole life and, in the process, to do great things.”

“And yet, the measure of this man’s life was never his job or title or position or even the long list of accomplishments in the public eye, as impressive as they all were,” Father O’Connell said. “The measure of this man’s life can be found in his character, in his optimism, in his joy and great sense of humor, in his courage, in his passion for what was good and true and right, in his love of 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.”

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