UNITED STATES—Former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush died in her west Houston home on Tuesday, April 17. The Texas matriarch was committed to promoting literacy. She was a strong supporter of the National Literacy Act, which was enacted in 1991.
She was the mother of President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the wife of President H.W. Bush, who she met when she was just 16 years old. Her husband reportedly held her hand throughout her last day. A statement from Jean Becker, George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff, said that the former president was “of course broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years.”
“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good Earth,” said Becker.
The former First Lady died from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure. She decided last weekend to decline any further medical treatment.
“My dear mother has passed on at age 92,” said her son George W. Bush in a statement. He added, “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.”
President Donald Trump stated that Barbara Bush was “an advocate of the American family.” He ordered that flags be flown at half-mast on the day of her burial.
“She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well,” said Trump.
The two were at odds during the 2016 election. Barbara Bush was not a fan of the way Trump treated women and made her views on the candidate known in a TV interview, “I don’t know how women can vote [for him].”
Bush served as the First Lady of The White House from 1989-1993. She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
There will be a public viewing at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Friday, April 20. A private funeral service will follow on Saturday, April 21 where 1500 people are expected to attend, including former presidents and their first ladies. She will be interred at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.