Another Chattanoogan had a close friendship with Barbara Bush, one forged during a great loss to our country and her personally.

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers first met Barbara Bush in the 80's when she was an educator and the wife of a young astronaut. Barbara was the wife of the vice president.

“She was down to earth, she was real,” Rodgers said. “She said it like it was.”

June Scobee Rodgers lost her husband in the Challenger explosion in 1986. Dick Scobee was the commander and Barbara held her hand during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

“After the challenger accident, at Arlington National Cemetery she sat next to me,” Rodgers recalled. “She brought out the handkerchief and I sobbed into it.”

George and Barbara encouraged her to turn the tragedy into triumph.

June and other Challenger family members started the Challenger Centers, with the first in Houston and nearly 50 more today.

“One of the reasons I think she was so sensitive to my loss her daughter died at four,” Rodgers said.  “How difficult that time was.”

The former first lady is being remembered fondly because of her honesty and genuine character.

“She had faith without being rigidly righteous,” Rodgers said. “A friend to so many great people.”

And her self-effacing humor drove the point home that family and friendship were most important.

“That was always her focus,” Rodgers said. “If you're focused on wrinkles and white hair then you aren’t even enjoying life at all.”

Funeral services for Mrs. Bush will be held this weekend in Houston, Texas.