We remember and mourn the loss of Former First Lady Barbara Bush. She passed at the age of 92. A gracious and strong woman, Mrs. Bush was only the second First Lady in our nation’s history to have both a husband and son as President (the first being Abigail Adams). Mrs. Bush was always a powerful advocate of women’s rights, civil rights and literacy. In addition to volunteering for charitable causes and nursing homes, she raised funds for the United Negro College Fund. Upon becoming First Lady, she insisted that she have a black press secretary – which was
the first time this position was ever held by a person of color. While in Midland, Texas, Mrs. Bush started a thrift shop. She became interested in fighting illiteracy due to her son Neil’s dyslexia.
Mrs. Bush was a sought after, strong political speaker, providing speeches at numerous campaign rallies through four presidential campaigns and over 500 speeches during her tenure in the family’s political arena. Throughout her husband’s and subsequently her son’s political careers, she was often interviewed and seen by the nation as an old-fashioned, Grandmotherly type. She was extremely unpretentious, known to wear fake pearls, eat takeout food, refused to dye her hair and was known to walk the family dog in her bathrobe. She often made fun of herself and her demeanor but was fiercely protective of her family.
After becoming first lady, Mrs. Bush started the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She donated the profits of her book “C. Fred’s Story: A Dog’s Life,” which looked at Washington life as seen by her dog, and also from a second follow-up book based on a different family dog, “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush” towards literacy causes. She was hopeful that her legacy be associated with illiteracy and the fight against it.
In 1988, she wrote, “I want to be known as a wife, a mother, a grandmother. That’s what I am. And I’d like to be known as someone who really cared about people and worked very, very hard to make America more literate.” Mrs. Bush continuously exemplified what being a woman of power means.