Remembering First Lady Barbara Bush

In Memory of Barbara Bush, 1925–2018

April 18, 2018

Story courtesy of NBC

With her white hair and signature pearls, Barbara Bush was often thought of as “America’s Grandmother.” But the former First Lady was also disarmingly candid, self-deprecating, and wickedly funny.

Born Barbara Pierce, she grew up in Rye, New York, and was just 16-years-old when she met George Bush at a Christmas dance. They were secretly engaged and three years later, married when he was was home on leave from the navy.

After the war, they headed for Texas, had six children and while her husband built his oil business, Barbara Bush was very much in charge at home, earning the nickname, “the enforcer,” that would stick for the rest of her life.

“They call me the enforcer,” she said. “Because someone else you and I know well does not enforce anything. He’s putty in their hands.”

But there was another side to Barbara Bush. The mother who changed forever when 3-year-old daughter Robin died of Leukemia.

“After she died, it was a terrible time in our life,” she said in a 1988 interview. “And George, put his arms around me and did not let me step away.”

Cancer became a family cause, as did political service. And throughout, Barbara Bush played a critical role.

“You’ve got two choices in life,” she said in an interview. “You can like what you do or you can dislike what you do. And I’ve chosen to like what I do.”

She published best-sellers -- including one by her dog, Millie. And spent much of her time promoting literacy.

Out of the White House, the Bushes did not slow down, raising more than $100 million for charity and later, hitting the campaign trail for their son, George W. Bush. She secured a special place in American history - the wife of one president, and the mother of another.

Through it all, family remained her first priority. In a speech at Wellesley College in 1990, Barbara told the young students, “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 child, a friend, or a parent.”

Barbara Bush passed away on April 17, 2018 at the age of 92.