HOUSTON — She was the first lady of a political dynasty in America.
Barbara Bush became First Lady of our country at a pivotal time in the late 80s when her husband, former Vice-President George H. W. Bush, was elected the nation's 41st president.
Now Mrs. Bush has passed away at her home in Houston at the age of 92.
The former first lady had been battling a number of health problems, including congestive heart failure and COPD.
But rather than continue fighting her health struggles, her family released a statement saying Mrs. Bush elected "not to seek additional medical treatment and will focus on comfort care," essentially deciding to die with dignity on her own terms.
Jim McGrath, the Bush family's spokesperson, released the following statement:
A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92. She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H. W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grandchildren; and her brother, Scott Pierce. She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.
The official funeral schedule will be announced as soon as is practical, McGrath said. The office also released a formal obituary: Barbara Pierce Bush FINAL.
Former President George W. Bush releases statement after his mother's passing
"My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes."
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner shares his condolences
Mayor Sylvester Turner released the following statement after the passing of the former first lady:
"Barbara Pierce Bush was best known to the world as the wife of a president and the mother of another, but in Houston we also knew her as a local leading light, an achiever in her own right who spoke and acted from the heart and the gut. She was a focused advocate for literacy and volunteerism; she was the brightest light among the “Thousand Points of Light” her husband charted; and frankly her kindness and counsel to me, away from the public gaze, will remain valuable as well as unforgettable.
"For these reasons and more, I join Houstonians and her many admirers around the globe in mourning her death and expressing heartfelt condolences to our treasured neighbor, Former President George H.W. Bush, and the rest of the Bush family.
"The former president and former first lady weren’t born in Houston but they got here as soon as they could. Mrs. Bush quickly turned to volunteerism and grassroots political work in our city. The help she provided to local charities, on her way to becoming 'The First Lady of Literacy' through the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, left a wonderful legacy even though much of it took place behind the scenes.
"As they express sorrow about her passing, many people will comment on the inspiring figure she became on the world stage. That role should never be overlooked. But as mayor, I suggest we also remember her as the refined-yet-salty Houston jewel she was.
"Few may have noticed that after Hurricane Harvey, her foundation and the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries provided a combined $2 million for resources, supplies and books at schools and public libraries disrupted by the storm disaster. And so her great works live on, along with our recollections.
"In her loving memory, the City of Houston and the Houston Public Library Foundation will work to complete the master planned improvements to the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza in front of the Jesse H. Jones Central Library."
Life of Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush was born in New York City in 1925 as Barbara Pierce.
Her distant cousin, Franklin Pierce, served as the 14th president of the United States. She also was related to the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
She met her future husband at a Christmas dance in Greenwich, Connecticut.
When George Bush returned from serving in World War II, the couple married and pulled up stakes moving all over the east coast before finally settling down in the west Texas town of Odessa.
The family would go on to celebrate 73 years of marriage— having six children, including two future governors and a future president.
The Bushes spent the Reagan Years as the Second Family in Washington before going on to inhabit the White House themselves in 1989.
One reason Barbara Bush was so beloved by so many is how she carried herself with grace and dignity, striving to stay above the political fray.
She made her mark as first lady focusing in particular on literacy, eventually establishing the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Mrs. Bush championed the cause of reading for countless school children across the globe.
In some ways, she seemed like our national grandmother, demonstrating compassion and exercising wisdom.
When her son, George W. Bush, became our nation's 43rd president, Mrs. Bush beamed with great pride.
"When I was campaigning for governor I would tell people of Texas I have my daddy's eyes and my mother's mouth," the former President 43 quipped in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
"You should be so lucky," Mrs. Bush retorted, as her son chuckled.
Hers is a legacy of love.
"And I don't have a fear of death for my precious George or for myself," she told a CSPAN interviewer. "Because I know that there is a great God."
As her granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager shared on Instagram: "Our world....is so much better because she's in it."
Now our world is a little dimmer and less brighter because she's no longer in it.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Bush.