Beloved Former First Lady, Barbara Bush passed away on April 17th of this year. She died at the age of 92 years old. She had a respiratory issue that was reported to be COPD or otherwise known as Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease. She died in the comfort of her own home in Texas.
Barbara Bush left a legacy of humility, advocacy, and strong feminine leadership. She was the first First Lady to embrace H.I.V afflicted babies (quite literally) and urged others to have that same generous spirit. She was a huge advocate for literacy and created the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation. Due to her efforts, she raised more than $100 million for the cause. In addition George and her were also big supporters of cancer research, especially the Leukemia Society of America as it was near and dear to their hearts.
She, like many First Ladies, had made numerous speeches, but one in particular at Wellesley College went down in the history books, not due to the fact that she was invited (as many First Ladies often are) but due to backlash she received from students there and her graceful handling of the situation. Some students felt as though Barbara Bush was not deserving of presenting the graduating class with a speech because she dropped out of school at 19 and married what would become President George Bush. One statement was: "To honor Barbara Bush as a commencement speaker is to honor a woman who has gained recognition through the achievements of her husband, which contravenes what we have been taught over the last four years at Wellesley.”. Nonetheless, Barbara came to the commencement and delivered what became a praised speech for her comments. She encouraged the women to chase their dreams but never forget that “you are a human being first and those human connections — with spouses, with children, with friends — are the most important investments you will ever make.” She also addressed the fact that yes she did go on to marry George Bush at a young age as some criticized her for and said, “One of the reasons I made the most important decision of my life, to marry George Bush, is because he made me laugh...Find the joy in life, because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off, “Life moves pretty fast; and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you’re going to miss it.”
Aside from her charitable work and patriotism, Barbara was of course known as being a loving wife and mother. She was one of only two women who was both a mother and a wife of a U.S. president. The other being Abigail Adams. Barbara was married to President Bush for 73 years but was with him for 76 years, dating for 3 years prior. She met him when she was just 16 years old at a holiday dance in Connecticut. George was 17 and according to him it was love at first sight when he spotted her and asked a friend to introduce them. They talked the night away and sat quite a few dances out as President Bush said he "didn't waltz". They dated for about a year and a half before George proposed and then went off to serve in WWII where they kept up writing letters until his return upon which they proceeded to get married. They ended up having 6 children in total, one of which was Pauline known as Robin, who passed away at the age of 3 from leukemia. The tragedy was said to have tested their married but ultimately made it stronger. George went on to work as the CIA Director in the 1970s and then of course President of the United States from 1989-1993. This whole time Barbara was a strong hold in his life and his family's life, being like the glue that held it all together.
Barbara Bush was laid to rest at the George W.H. Bush Presidential Library grounds at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas following a service that took place at St. Martin's Episcopal Church. Her burial site is actually near that of the Bush's daughter Robin, who was buried there in 1953. President Bush wore "book" socks to the funeral to honor Barbara's legacy of advancing literacy. In a statement following her death, President Bush said "I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world, and in fact I used to tease her that I had a complex about that fact. But the truth is the outpouring of love and friendship being directed at The Enforcer is lifting us all up,” Bush, 93, continued. “We have faith she is heaven, and we know life will go on — as she would have it. So cross the Bushes off your worry list.” There were about 1,500 in attendance at Barbara's funeral services, some of whom were former President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as First Lady Melania Trump. At the services, 3 eulogies were given, all chosen prior by Mrs. Barbara Bush. The third and final one was given by her son Jeb.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush will always be remembered in American history and in the hearts of the American people for her patriotism, leadership, advocacy, love, and passion for this great country. R.I.P. Barbara.