In some sad news, former First Lady Barbara Bush has passed away at her home in Texas. Just yesterday, the Bush family issued a statement that said she was gravely ill and choosing to forego further medical intervention and would instead focus on “comfort care.” The statement continued, “It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”
Official funeral arrangements are forthcoming.
Bush served as First Lady during her husband, George H.W. Bush’s single term as president from 1989-1983. She was previously Second Lady of the United States for eight years while her husband was vice president in the Ronald Reagan era. Bush was also the mother of President George W. Bush. She is, in fact, only the second American woman to be both the wife and mother of presidents. The first? Abigail Adams. (Her son Jeb, the former governor of Florida, ran in the presidential primary in 2016 eventually losing to now-President Trump.)
Born Barbara Pierce in 1925, she met her future husband at the age of 16. Their love story is one that has endured over the years. Just this March, she told the Smith Alumnae Magazine, “George Bush has given me the world. He is the best—thoughtful and loving […] I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago.”
But while she may have risen to public prominence thanks to her husband’s political career (one she very much helped to build), Bush’s impact on the country and the world goes far beyond that. While in the White House, Bush took up the cause of universal literacy and later founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy over 25 years ago. “The American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard,” said Bush on the foundation’s website. “If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed.” She’s also the published author of two autobiographies, plus two other books written in the voices of their famous family dogs, Millie and C. Fred.
And her family—which includes six children and 17 grandchildren—was always at the center of Bush’s life. She often pops up on granddaughter and Today show regular Jenna Bush Hager’s Instagram feed.
While Bush was a Republican, she was universally respected and beloved by those on both sides of the aisle.