Barbara Bush, the wife of the 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush and mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. President, passed away Tuesday after a long battle with heart-related ailments.
She was also the mother of Jeb Bush, the younger brother of George W. Bush and the 43rd Governor of Florida, who also ran an unsuccessful U.S. presidential campaign in 2016.
“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,” read a statement released by the office of her husband of 73 years, George H.W. Bush.
Jean Becker, Chief of staff at the former president’s office, said that he was heartbroken “to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years,” adding that Mr. Bush “held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth.”
Becker said that although it was a “challenging time” for the former president “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.”
Mrs. Bush’s son George W. Bush, who served two terms as the 43rd president of the United States described his dear departed mother as a “fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other.”
“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,” said the former president.
“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,” he added.
An earlier statement released by Mr. Bush’s office said that Mrs. Bush – who had been in and out of hospitals multiple times had been fighting a losing battle with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – said Sunday that she would like to be surrounded by her loving family.
“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,” said the statement. “She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”
Mrs. Bush will be long remembered, perhaps forever, for her immense contribution to universal literacy through her Florida-based non-profit organization, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy which she founded in 1989 with a stated mission “to make literacy a core value in every home in America.”
Born Barbara Pierce on June 8, 1925, in New York City, New York, Mrs. Bush first met her husband at a Round Hill Country Club dance in Greenwich, Connecticut, when Mr. Bush was still a student at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
The couple tied the knot on January 6, 1945, at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York, and had six children together, including George W. Bush, Robin Bush, Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch.
Glowing tributes for the former first lady poured in from across the political community, with President Donald Trump hailing her as an “advocate of the American family”.
Trump said that one of her “greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Barack and Michelle Obama called her “the rock of a family dedicated to public service,” going on to say that while they were grateful to the former first lady for her generosity towards them during their stint at the White House, they were “even more grateful for the way she lived her life – as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects 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
And here’s what Jeb Bush had to say about his mother’s demise.
“Columba and I join every member of the Bush family in offering our sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support for my Mom in recent days, and throughout her remarkable life. 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. Thank you for your prayers, and we look forward to celebrating and honoring her life and contributions to our family and great nation in the coming days.”
Bill Clinton called her a “remarkable woman,” saying that “she had grit & grace, brains & beauty.”
He said Mrs. Bush was “fierce & feisty’ when it came to supporting her family and friends.
“Hillary and I mourn her passing and bless her memory,” he said in his Twitter statement.
Barbara Bush was a remarkable woman. She had grit & grace, brains & beauty. She was fierce & feisty in support of her family & friends, her country & her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like. Hillary and I mourn her passing and bless her memory.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) April 17, 2018
US Senator Bernie Sanders said:
“Barbara Bush will be remembered as a strong, independently minded and popular First Lady who was devoted to her family and her country. Jane and I send our condolences to the Bush family,”
Barbara Bush will be remembered as a strong, independently minded and popular First Lady who was devoted to her family and her country. Jane and I send our condolences to the Bush family.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 18, 2018
Jeb’s son George P. Bush said that the sorrow of his grandmother’s loss “is softened by the knowledge of her impact on our family and our country.”
My grandmother didn't just live life; she lived it well. And the sorrow of her loss is softened by the knowledge of her impact on our family and our country. I will miss you, Ganny—but know we will see you again. 2/2
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) April 17, 2018
In another tweet, he said that Mrs. 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 said.
My grandmother'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. 1/2
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) April 17, 2018
Here are some more tweets in remembrance of Mrs. Barbara Bush.
Barbara Bush’s wit, wisdom, and devotion to her family and our country earned her the admiration of millions, and her literacy efforts improved countless lives and will continue to do so for generations. @AnneHolton and I offer our condolences to the Bush family tonight.
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) April 18, 2018
This evening we lost former First Lady Barbara Bush, a committed wife and mother. Her goal to create opportunity through literacy touched lives all across the country. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.
— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) April 18, 2018
Our nation mourns the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush. She was a great woman, whose commitment to God and country inspired all Americans. Her legacy will live on through her family. Jeanette and I are keeping the Bush family in our prayers.
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) April 18, 2018