Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Barbara Bush: The Bush Family Matriarch

As Americans, the Bush family has been a part of lives for the better part of three decades. While male members of the family have served as governors, vice presidents, and presidents, the women behind them served their country and became just as recognizable as their famous husbands. Today, we'll take a look back at the life of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Much like her daughter-in-law, Barbara Pierce Bush has been one of the most well-received first ladies in American history. Her warm manner, her witty charm, and her love for others has even earned her the nickname "everybody's grandmother." Mrs. Bush was born in 1925 in Rye, New York, to Pauline and Marvin Pierce. Some of her fondest memories include swimming, tennis, and bike-riding, and it was at an early age that she developed a love for reading, which would later inspire to take on a great cause. She attended boarding school in South Carolina and it was there, at the age of sixteen, that she met George Herbert Walker Bush. The two would be engaged a year and a half later, just before he went off to war as a member of the United States Navy. Barbara Bush went on to attend Smith College but dropped out when her fiance came home from war. Two weeks later the two were married on January 6, 1945.

When the future President graduated from Yale, the two moved to Texas to begin life together. While he built a business in the oil industry and started a career in politics, Mrs. Bush took care of the couple's six children: George, Robin, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Unfortunately, life took a turn for the worse when the couple's daughter, Robin, was just three years old; she died from a battle with leukemia. But Mrs. Bush insists the experience helped "love every living human more."

During President Bush's political career, Mrs. Bush was always at his side. Her friendly, likable manner helped win over both the voters and the press. When Bush became Vice President under President Ronald Reagan, Mrs. Bush decided to take on literacy as her special cause, calling it "the most important issues we have" as Americans. Mrs. Bush donated much of her time to the cause and eventually became the Honorary Chairman of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She has also been involved with various other issues including AIDS, homeless, work with the elderly, and school volunteer programs. During her time as First Lady, Mrs. Bush was also known for being seen with Millie, her English Springer Spaniel, and even wrote a children's book about the dog.

Since leaving the White House in 1993, Mrs. Bush has remained a public figure. She openly supported her son's bid for President and has been present at many of his events. She has been inducted several women's fraternities, and has had at least five elementary and middle schools named for her. She currently serves on the boards for the Mayo Clinic and AmeriCares and heads the Barbara Bush Foundation for Literacy.

She and the former President split their time between their home in Houston, Texas and Kennebunkport, Maine.

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