Former First Lady Barbara Bush Has Died

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Has Died
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Former first ladyBarbara Bushdied Tuesday. She was 92.

"A former first lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at the age of 92," reads a statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush.

 

 

Mrs. Bush served as the country's first lady from 1989 to 1993. She passed away shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.

Mr. Bush is "broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years," according to Jean Becker, chief of staff at the former president's office. "He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth."

While it's a "challenging time ... it will not surprise all of you who know and love him that he also is being stoic and strong, and is being lifted up by his large and supportive family," Becker said.

Mrs. Bush's funeral will be held at St. Martin’s Church in Houston, where she and the former president have been devoted members for decades.

Having been hospitalized numerous times while battling congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she decided Sunday that she wanted to be "surrounded by a family she adores," according to an earlier statement released by Mr. Bush's office.

 

 

 "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," the statement continued. "She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."

In January 2017, Mrs. Bush and her husband were hospitalized at the same time. She was being treated for bronchitis and the nation's 41st president was being treated for pneumonia.

Mrs. Bush is one of only two first ladies in the history of the country who is also the mother of a president. Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, a founding father of the nation and its second president, was the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. president.

Mrs. Bush is the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who ran for president of the United States in 2016.

During her tenure as the nation's first lady, Mrs. Bush, the mother of six children, was a champion for global literacy and continued the work after she and her husband left the White House.

In 1989, she formed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which encourages parents to read to their children.

"Literacy fits in with so many other things," she once told The Chicago Tribune. "If more people could read, fewer people would have AIDS. There would be less homelessness. I'm absolutely convinced of that."

 

 

A source close to the family told CBS News that the former first lady was having a glass of bourbon the night before her passing.

Barbara Bush was born June 8, 1925, in New York City, the third of four children of Marvin Pierce, a magazine publishing executive, and Pauline Robinson Pierce. She grew up in the affluent suburb of Rye, New York, where she was an avid athlete, excelling at swimming and tennis.

As a teen, she attended Ashley Hall, a boarding school in South Carolina. In 1941, when she was 16 and home on Christmas break, she met George Herbert Walker Bush, then a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., at a holiday dance. The attraction was immediate and 18 months later, they were engaged.

Barbara entered Smith College but dropped out to marry Bush, who had gone to war as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot. She was 19 and he was 20 when they wed January 6, 1945 in Rye. Years later, she said, "I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell my children that, they just about throw up. "

As newlyweds, the couple lived in New Haven, Conn., where Bush was a student at Yale and their first child, George W. Bush, was born. They then moved around regularly – to Texas, California, and back to various Texas cities – as the family grew. By the time she moved to Washington for her husband's vice presidency, Barbara Bush estimated they had moved 29 times.

George W. Bush was followed by a sister, Robin, who lived almost four years before dying of leukemia (an event some speculated was the cause of Barbara Bush's hair turning prematurely white). The children who followed were Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.

While George – who called his wife "Bar" - built a business in the oil industry, Barbara devoted herself to raising their family. When he entered public life – as a congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and later as Vice President, she was at his side.

As the vice president's wife, she selected literacy as her special cause. Later, after her husband was elected president, she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She also was an advocate for volunteerism, including programs involving the homeless, elderly and those with AIDS.

Along the way, she wrote two books about the family dogs, "C. Fred's Story" and the best-selling "Millie's Book," with profits benefitting literacy. After her husband left the White House, she wrote a best-selling autobiography "Barbara Bush: A Memoir" in 1994 followed by "Reflections" in 2004.

Bush once explained that people liked her because "I'm fair and I like children and I adore my husband."

She also was known for her forthright manner, especially when anyone challenged her family. In 1984, speaking of her husband's vice presidential opponent, Geraldine Ferraro, Bush said she couldn't say what she thought of the Democrat on television but "it rhymes with rich."

Following her husband's loss in the 1992 presidential election, the couple moved to Houston and also spent time at the longtime family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush was active in campaigning for her sons Jeb, who served as governor of Florida, and George, who was a two-term U.S. president. Only Barbara Bush and Abigail Adams were both the wife and mother of U.S. presidents.

In 2008, Bush underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer and in 2009, she had heart surgery.  In 2014, she was hospitalized with respiratory issues.

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