Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Houston, TX, United States (4E) – Barbara Bush, the country’s “grandmother in chief” whose formidable presence in the shadows formed the foundation of the Bush multi-generational political dynasty, died at her home in Houston, Texas on Tuesday. She was 92.
“Babs,” as she was affectionately called by her husband, saw her health decline dramatically over the past few days and recently decided not to seek further treatment.
Barbara Bush was wife to George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, and mother to George W. Bush, the 43rd president. She was also the proud mother to Jeb Bush, the 43rd Governor of Florida who lost his bid for the presidency in 2016 during the Republican primaries.
“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,” wrote former president George W. Bush.
“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.”
Barbara and George H.W. celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary this January. She leaves behind five children (George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy), 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Their second child, Pauline Robinson, died of leukemia when she was only three years old.
Barbara was only 16 when she first met George, who she described as “the handsomest man I ever saw,” and was only 20 when “I married the first boy I ever kissed.” Barbara and George were married in 1945. Barbara never wavered from her belief that being a wife and mother was her greatest contribution to society.
The woman who said that “faith, family and friends” are the most important things in life championed family literacy when she became First Lady in 1989. She was part of many literacy organizations; served on literacy committees and chaired many reading organizations. She eventually founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and, up until her health failed her, was dedicated to eliminating the generational cycle of illiteracy in the USA by supporting programs where parents and their young children are able to learn together.
Unlike her husband, Barbara supported gun control and “privately supported abortion rights.” She said, “I hate abortions, but I just could not make that choice for someone else.”
She was not a fan of Donald Trump. She was outraged about some of the things candidate Trump said about women during the election of 2016. “I mean, unbelievable. I don’t know how women can vote for someone who said what he said about Megyn Kelly,” she said. “And we knew what he meant too!”
At the time of her death, Barbara was the only woman who was both wife of a former president and the mother of a former president, and one of only two in U.S. history along with Abigail Adams (1744-1818).
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