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Former first lady Barbara Bush dies

by Melinda Taylor
Posted 4/17/18, 08:14 pm

Barbara Bush, the popular and sometimes peppery wife of one U.S. president and mother of another, died Tuesday at age 92, according to a family spokesman. Jim McGrath announced for the family on Sunday that Bush had returned to her Houston home to focus on “comfort care” after being treated for unspecified health problems.

At age 16, Barbara Pierce met George H.W. Bush at a Christmas dance in Greenwich, Conn. They married on Jan. 6, 1945, and celebrated their 73rd anniversary this year. The Bushes were married longer than any other presidential couple in American history.

Barbara Bush brought attention to illiteracy in America during her husband’s eight years as vice president and four years as president and founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. A wholehearted campaigner for her husband during his races for office, she usually avoided discussing her own political views. But while serving as first lady, Bush told reporters the issue of abortion had no place in the Republican Party platform. She called abortion a “personal thing,” and said, “I hate abortions, but just could not make that choice for someone else.” In an interview about the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, who died of leukemia in 1953, Bush acknowledged the inherent worth of all children: “You just don’t know how valuable a child is until you lose one. And you don’t know what a miracle it is when a child is born well.”

Her husband; five of her six children, including former President George W. Bush; 17 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren survive her. Barbara Bush is the only woman besides Abigail Adams to be both wife and mother of U.S. presidents. Another one of her sons, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said, “If there’s anybody more powerful in my family than my mother then I don’t know who it is.”

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Melinda Taylor

Melinda is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute's mid-career course.

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