Former first lady Barbara Bush dies at 92 - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Former first lady Barbara Bush dies at 92

First Lady Barbara Bush poses with her dog Millie in 1990. (AP Photo/Doug Mills) First Lady Barbara Bush poses with her dog Millie in 1990. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
Former first lady Barbara Bush never overshadowed her husband, but was a highly recognizable figure in her own right. (Source: Wiki Commons/Happyme22) Former first lady Barbara Bush never overshadowed her husband, but was a highly recognizable figure in her own right. (Source: Wiki Commons/Happyme22)

HOUSTON (RNN) – Barbara Pierce Bush, wife and mother to presidents and a beloved national matriarch, has died. She was 92.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Bush family announced her death. 

"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," the statement said.

Her funeral will be held at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, where she and former president George H.W. Bush were congregants. It will be invitation-only, with 1,500 people expected to attend.

There will be a private visitation at a funeral home in Houston on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to her personal website, the public is welcomed to pay their respects as she lay in repose on Friday, from noon to midnight, at St. Martin's.

Her son, former president George W. Bush, issued a statement saying:

"My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes."

Jeb Bush also issued a statement saying in part: "I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush."

Her grandson, Texas official George P. Bush, tweeted that Bush's "entire life was focused on others. For my grandfather, she was his top adviser and confidante. For her family, she was a steady, loving and guiding hand. And for her country, she was an inspiration and an example for all."

He added a second tweet:

Jim McGrath, the post-White House spokesperson for President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush, had announced Sunday on Twitter that Bush had decided to not seek any more medical treatment.

The announcement came following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting with her family and doctors. 

According to CNN, Mrs. Bush had been suffering for a while and had been in and out of the hospital battling with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and congestive heart failure.

McGrath said the former first lady was surrounded by a family she adored and appreciated the many kind messages and especially the prayers she received,

President Donald Trump issued a statement saying he and the first lady, Melania Trump, "join the nation in celebrating the life of Barbara Bush."

"Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family," it read. "She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well."

A statement from former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama called Bush "the rock of a family dedicated to public service, and our thought sand prayers are with both Presidents Bush and the entire Bush family tonight."

Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, said they were "saddened by the death of Barbara Bush. She touched the hearts of millions with her warmth, generosity, and keen wit." And former president Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton said Bush was a "remarkable woman" with "grit and grace, brains and beauty."

Bush was known as the affable yet direct first lady who adored her husband, President Bush. Those traits endeared her to the American public and served her well outside the White House.

She and her husband were married for 73 years, the longest presidential marriage in history.

She established a reputation as a relatable, strong matriarch of a family that came to include a second president, George W. Bush, and governor, Jeb Bush.

Barbara Bush was born on June 8, 1925, in Rye, NY, to Pauline and Marvin Pierce. 

She met a future president and the love of her life when she was 16. On Christmas vacation in Massachusetts, she and George Bush met at his school dance.

The two were engaged a year and a half later and married in 1945 after George Bush returned from World War II.

The two had their first child, the future president George W. Bush, in 1946.

They faced tragedy when their second child, Robin Bush, died in 1949 at age 3 of leukemia. That same year they had Jeb, the future Florida governor. 

Three more children, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy, followed.

Bush began her long life in the political world when her husband was elected to Congress in 1966. While her husband campaigned and served in a number of political roles in the coming years, she raised the five children and supported Bush's political ambitions along the way.

He became vice president to President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and Barbara Bush became "second lady."

During this period Bush took up her signature cause, literacy, when her son Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia. She wrote a children's book, "C. Fred's Story," in 1984 and donated the sales to literacy organizations.

George Bush was elected to succeed Reagan as president in 1988 and was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1989, making Bush the first lady.

As first lady, she staked her place as an elegant, composed stateswoman, adorned in her famous faux pearls.   

She continued to promote literacy, establishing the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She was also known to express quiet sympathy for abortion rights.

She and her husband were widely admired by White House and Secret Service staff for their humility and accessibility. They left Washington following her husband's defeat to Bill Clinton in the 1994 presidential race. 

They settled back in Houston, where they'd first moved in the late '50s at the start of George Bush's political career, and were seen as pillars of the community. They attended games last year as the Houston Astros won their first World Series championship.

Speaking at Wellesley College's graduation in 1990, she said: "At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a children, or a parent."  

That devotion to family was her enduring hallmark.

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