HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — President Clinton spent Friday visiting with family and friends as hundreds of mourners from around the country gathered for the funeral today of his mother, Virginia Kelley.
After a 15-minute morning visit to the funeral home, Clinton was seen comforting his tearful half brother, Roger, 37, as the pair left the home. Clinton, wearing a brown leather jacket, put his arm around his weeping younger brother.
With them at the Gross Funeral Home for a private viewing was Mrs. Kelley's husband, Richard Kelley, a former food broker. A public viewing followed.
Clinton oversaw final preparations for the funeral, received friends and pored over old family albums. Mourners, many carrying covered dishes, visited the Kelleys' three-bedroom lakeside house throughout the day.
The President took an hourlong trip around Hot Springs with three high school friends, walked through their now-closed high school, and drove through neighborhoods he knew in his youth.
"He seems to be bearing up pretty well," said White House spokesman Jeff Eller.
Mrs. Kelley, 70, died in her sleep early Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer.
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton arrived from Washington on Friday afternoon with more than 30 friends from Washington. Among them were White House Chief of Staff Thomas (Mack) McLarty, presidential counselor Bruce Lindsey and associate Atty. Gen. Webster Hubbell.
Because of an expected crowd of more than 1,000 people, the funeral will take place in the Hot Springs Convention Auditorium. Three Methodist ministers will conduct the ceremony: Dan George, pastor of the Grand Avenue Methodist Church of Hot Springs; Dr. John Miles, pastor of St. James Methodist in Little Rock, and Joe Wilderson, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Malvern, Ark.
Clinton will fly back to Washington this evening. As scheduled, he will leave tonight for Brussels, to begin a nine-day European trip from there.