Remembering First Lady Barbara Bush

The evening of Tuesday, April 17, The Office of George H.W. Bush confirmed that the 41st First Lady of the U.S., Barbara Bush, has died at 92 years old. Survived by her husband, brother, five children, seventeen grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, the former FLOTUS had endured repeated hospitalizations and health problems over the past several years. She had combated thyroid disease for most of her life—additionally facing heart surgery and pneumonia within the past decade—and declared over the last week that she would no longer seek further treatment, shifting her focus instead to comfort.

The ever-popular FLOTUS raised six children (one of whom, Robin, is deceased) with President George H.W. Bush—and for 73 years, the two enjoyed the longest marriage of any American president and first lady. In 1989, following her son Neil’s diagnosis with dyslexia, she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation, aimed at combating illiteracy. Bush assumed an unrelenting commitment towards improving literacy education, stating that “If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed.” Through education, expansion of after school programs, and grants for low-income families, her foundation championed the notion that “if more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and society.”  

In her famous 1990 Wellesley College commencement speech, Mrs. Bush remarked that “at the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, 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.” She even went on to quote the famed Ferris Bueller, saying “Life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you are going to miss it.” Bush continued to embrace the diversity that renders America so remarkable, imploring students to “search for [their] own true colors” and believe in something larger than oneself. Concluding, she speculated that perhaps someone in the audience might follow in her footsteps as the President’s spouse, and proceeded to wish HIM well.

 

Though Barbara Bush’s long and successful life has come to an end, the legacy of this extraordinary American woman will persist with the longevity and vigor that became so defining of her character.

 

 

 

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