Mrs. Barbara Bush, a former first lady of the United States (1988-1993), died at the age of 92 on Tuesday after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.
Image: Barbara Bush
According to a report from CNN, death of the Republican matriarch who elevated the cause of literacy was confirmed in a statement released from her husband’s office.
“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.
Only the second woman in American history to have had a husband and a son elected President (Abigail Adams was the first), Bush was seen as a plainspoken public figure who was instantly recognizable with her signature white hair and pearl necklaces and earrings. She became a major political figure as her husband, George H.W. Bush, rose to become vice president and president. After they left the White House, she was a potent spokeswoman for two of her sons — George W. and Jeb — as they campaigned for office.
The mother of six children — one of whom, a daughter, Robin, died as a child from leukemia — Barbara Bush raised her fast-growing family in the 1950s and ’60s amid the post-war boom of Texas and the whirl of politics that consumed her husband. She was at his side during his nearly 30-year political career.
He was a US representative for Texas, UN ambassador, Republican Party chairman, ambassador to China and CIA director. He then became Ronald Reagan’s vice president for two terms and won election to the White House in 1988. He left office in 1993 after losing a re-election bid to Bill Clinton.
Quick-witted with a sharp tongue, the feisty Barbara Bush was a fierce defender of her husband and an astute adviser.
As first lady, her principal persona as a devoted wife and mother contrasted in many ways with her peer and predecessor, Nancy Reagan, and her younger successor, Hillary Clinton, both of whom were seen as more intimately involved in their husbands’ presidencies.
Still, Barbara Bush promoted women’s rights, and her strong personal views sometimes surfaced publicly and raised eyebrows — especially when they clashed with Republican Party politics. For instance, she once said as her husband ran for president that abortion should not be politicized.
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.