Visiting Bush's home state of Texas for the first time as president, Obama said Bush showed the "extraordinary ripple effect that one life lived humbly, with love for one's county and in service to one's fellow citizens, can have," The Dallas Morning News reported.
Obama spoke at Texas A&M University at a celebration of the Points of Light Institute, which traces its origins to Bush's 1989 inauguration speech, when he called for volunteers to become "a thousand points of light."
"He didn't call for one blinding light shining from Washington. He didn't just call for a few bright lights from the biggest nonprofits," Obama said. "He called for a vast galaxy of people and institutions working together to solve problems in their own backyards."
When Bush introduced Obama, he told the audience he had met him for the first time in 2005 in Houston when the city was packed with New Orleans residents who had fled Hurricane Katrina. Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, was there to help, not to grab headlines, Bush said.
"I could quickly see that he was someone who genuinely cared about helping others," Bush said.
Obama's motorcade to Ridder Auditorium avoided several hundred protesters.