Barbara Bush, Former First Lady and Mother of a President, Dies at 92

Bush shepherded her family through decades of Republican campaigns.

barbara bush
Barbara Bush was known for her straight-talk and self-deprecating humor. (Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)
Corbis via Getty Images

Barbara Bush, the wife of a president and the mother of another, died Tuesday night at her home in Houston at 92-years-old. The announcement was made by Jim McGrath, a family spokesperson, on Twitter.

The Bushes had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January, making them the longest-married couple in presidential history, reports The New York Times. As the wife of the 41st president and mothers of the 43rd, Barbara Bush was only the second woman in American history (Abigail Adams was the first) to see a son of hers follow his father’s footsteps to the White House. Bush also fiercely defended another of her sons, Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida from 1990 to 2007, during his unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. During the campaign, Jeb was frequently attacked by Donald Trump, causing Barbara to lash back, suggesting Trump was a misogynist and hatemonger.

Barbara Bush was a dedicated family-woman and frequently downplayed her role in her husband’s political success, writes The Times. But she was a valuable ally and was a sought-after speaker in at least four national campaigns. A 1999 poll found that 63 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of her and only 3 percent an unfavorable one. During her reign as First Lady, she was vocal in her support for literacy and civil rights. She could be combative and her candor sometimes got her in trouble. Her influence on her husband largely remained out of the public eye, allowing her to escape serious criticism. She published two books, Barbara Bush: A Memoir, in 1994 and Reflections: Life After the White House in 2004. She was a lifelong volunteer for charitable causes.

“I want to be known as a wife, a mother, a grandmother,” she wrote in 1988, according to The Times. “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.”

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