On Tuesday, the Bush family announced that 92-year-old matriarch Barbara Bush had passed away. The New York native had been in failing health for some time, with the family announcing over the weekend that Bush had requested she be moved from the hospital to her home in Texas, declining medical intervention and instead opting to spend her remaining days with her family.
Born Barbara Pierce, she came from a wealthy family and met George Bush at a Christmas dance when she was 16 and he was 17. The two were engaged 18 months later and married in 1945 when Bush returned home from his duties as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot during the war. The couple welcomed six children over the next 13 years, with their second child Robin dying of leukemia at age three.
When George Bush became a Congressman in 1966, Barbara began her foray into public life, working with local charities and women’s groups. She shocked many Republicans in 1980 when her husband announced his intention to run for the presidency and Barbara said that she supported both pro-choice and the Equal Rights Amendment. When her son Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia, Barbara set her sights on combating illiteracy and homelessness, feeling the two were often connected. One of her greatest legacies is her contribution to ending illiteracy in the United States, as well as AIDS and cancer research. Known for her progressive views and humour, at her famous 1990 commencement speech at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Bush said “Who knows? Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse. And I wish him well.”
She and Abigail Adams are the only two women to have been both married to, and the mother of, a US president, with Barbara’s husband George Bush serving as president from 1989 to 1993, and their son George W. Bush president from 2001 – 2009.
In 2017, both Barbara and George were hospitalized and missed the inauguration of President Trump, but the couple did later appear at the Super Bowl in Houston.
This past January, Barbara and George Bush celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary. In the hours following Barbara’s death, many politicians and celebrities have shared their memories for the former FLOTUS on social media.
The Obamas released a joint statement, saying that Bush represented the very best of the American spirit.
Our statement on the passing of Former First Lady Barbara Bush: pic.twitter.com/MhTVYCL9Nj
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 18, 2018
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Bush ‘a friend to Canada’ and applauded the legacy she leaves behind.
Always a friend to Canada, Barbara Bush leaves a legacy of dignity, grace, service and devotion to family. Sophie and I send our deepest condolences to Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, their family, and to all Americans.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 18, 2018
Hillary Clinton thanked Bush for the kindness she extended throughout the years to the Clinton family.
Thinking about Barbara Bush’s legacy of service to our country and the extraordinary family she raised. Thanking her for her many kindnesses to me and my family. Wishing her the comfort she deserves surrounded by her loved ones.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 16, 2018
Ellen DeGeneres said that Bush ‘lived an incredible life.’
Barbara Bush lived an incredible life. I’m sending my love to her family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 18, 2018
JJ Watt shared photos of himself and Bush, an avid sports fans.
Rest In Peace Mrs. Barbara Bush.
You were a beautiful light in this world and I am forever thankful for your friendship. pic.twitter.com/yuZvQ7o8aH
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) April 17, 2018
Roseanne Barr remembered Bush comforting her after Barr infamously performed the Star-Spangled Banner.
“Barbara Bush” said she thought I was a brave woman, after my SSB fiasco. I never forgot that-it was so sweet of her. RIP!
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) April 18, 2018
Madeline Albright said that Bush embodied America’s best values.
Barbara Bush was a woman of incredible determination, wit, and compassion who embodied America’s best values. My deepest condolences to the entire Bush family — especially her devoted husband @GeorgeHWBush.
— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) April 18, 2018
Al Gore said Bush would be remembered for her kindness and spirit.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush was a pillar of strength for her family and was much admired in our country. Both the wife and the mother of a U.S. President, she will be remembered for her service, pragmatism, and strong, kind spirit.
— Al Gore (@algore) April 18, 2018
Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb issued a statement together, praising Bush’s commencement speech to Wellesley College.
Former first lady Barbara Bush has passed away at the age of 92. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jenna and the entire Bush family. 💗 pic.twitter.com/ZiKfM1ihCa
— Kathie Lee and Hoda (@klgandhoda) April 17, 2018
Actor Gary Sinise remembered visiting the Bush family in Texas.
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our nations former First Lady, Barbara Bush. I will always cherish the fond memories I have of visiting her and President George H.W. Bush at the Bush Library in College Station and again here at Texas A & M for a football game. pic.twitter.com/uDkB6MoGWX
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) April 18, 2018
And Jenna Bush Hagar paid tribute to her grandmother with a touching and emotional description of a woman who taught her to both use her voice and listen to others.
I already miss this FORCE of a woman— the “enforcer” because she was the glue that held our family together. She taught me to use my voice but also to value the opinions of others. She adored her friends and family; her loyalty was unwavering. Humor helps, she often said and it does, Gans, but I will miss your laugh terribly. She adored my Gampy, the first man she ever kissed; their love story is so engrained in the history of our family. Thinking of my Gampy tonight —no doubt missing his beloved desperately. Gans, people stopped me all the time to tell me how much they loved you. I didn’t mind sharing you with them. I love you more than tongue can tell, my Ganny.