Barbara Bush led a long and remarkable life with the ear of two presidents and her own agenda to improve literacy in the United States.
Feisty and formidable, the former Barbara Pierce was one half of another remarkable event — a 73 year marriage to former President George H.W. Bush. It was the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. And she was one of only two first ladies who had a child who was elected president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.
The family, long before moving to the White House, became Odessans for a time short time in the 1940s. One of the three homes they lived in while in Odessa, the Bush House, now sits on University Blvd., behind the Presidential Archives And Leadership Library.
The former president has been quoting as saying it was in Odessa that the couple became Texans.
Barbara Bush was laid to rest Saturday. Her legacy is much more than first lady and the mother of a president.
The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy began during her White House years with a goal to improve the lives of disadvantaged Americans by boosting literacy among parents and their children.
The foundation partners with local programs and had awarded more than $40 million to create or expand more than 1,500 literacy programs nationwide as of 2014. “Focusing on the family is the best place to start to make this country more literate, and I still feel that being more literate will help us solve so many of the other problems facing our society,” she wrote in her 1994 memoir.
She also reached out to many who were hurting and became one of the early voices calling for compassion for all who suffered from AIDS and HIV. She gave generously of her time and name to help charities around the country both during her time in the White House and after.
“I had the best job in America,” she wrote in a 1994 memoir describing her time in the White House. “Every single day was interesting, rewarding, and sometimes just plain fun.”
Mrs. Bush raised five children: George W., Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. A sixth child, 3-year-old daughter Robin, died of leukemia in 1953.
We celebrate Barbara Bush and the aid and compassion she showed to others. She was dignified and someone we are proud to call a former Odessan.
It was reported that her husband was at his wife’s side when she died and had been holding her hand all day.
We would have suspected nothing less from this remarkable love story.
In her 1994 memoir, she her and her husband as “the two luckiest people in the world, and when all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family and friends. We have been inordinately blessed, and we know that.”
She later told C-Span that she didn’t fear death for herself or “my precious George.”
“I know there is a great God, and I’m not worried,” she said.
Again, remarkable. The world is certainly less cheerful with Barbara Bush not in it. But heaven gained an angel.