MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- Muskogee native Sharon Lietzow holds dear her memories of President George Herbert Walker Bush.
From the times of shaking his hand along with his wife Barbara on Sundays to the gift they gave her on the birth of Lietzow's first daughter were the memories that came to her Dec. 6 as she played the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" on the piano during the funeral service for Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston.
"He was a great man who set a fine example," Lietzow told the Muskogee Phoenix . "It was wonderful to shake his hand and visit with them. He was really fun. They were tremendous people. When my first child was born, they sent me a pink elephant. They were always doing those kinds of things."
Bush, the 41st President of the United States, died on Nov. 30. He was 94.
Lietzow, who graduated from Muskogee Central High School in 1959, said playing the piano was her gift to President Bush.
"I was absolutely and totally enthralled and completely involved in it," she said. "It's such an amazing piece. It was an absolutely amazing performance of everyone there. I loved playing the double octaves at the end of the song. I adored every note. I just loved it. I will always love it."
Lietzow, whose maiden name is Sharon Gray, performed with other members of the church. When the service was over, another moment in a day of unforgettable memories was created.
"When we processed out and went down the center aisle, we turned left and walked back up the aisle," she said. "We came to the third row, and that's where George and Barbara would be. I knew them a long time and they became like family."
Music has always been part of Lietzow's life from the time she was band queen in 1959 to graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1963. She has been a piano teacher and deeply involved in the music scene in Dallas and her current home in Houston.
It was easy for Lietzow to perform during the service.
"It was the same kind of service we have for Episcopalian," she said. "It was such a beautiful service. Today was a love feast for the nation.
"Everybody was saying that music was a powerful force today. It meant so much in my life and one of those special days you're never going to forget."