|Barbara Bush in 1989|
|First Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
|Preceded by||Nancy Reagan|
|Succeeded by||Hillary Rodham Clinton|
|Second Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
|Preceded by||Joan Mondale|
|Succeeded by||Marilyn Quayle|
June 8, 1925
New York, New York
|Spouse(s)||George H. W. Bush
|Relations||Marvin Pierce (father)
Scott Pierce (brother)
|Alma mater||Smith College (attended)|
|Occupation||former First Lady of the United States|
Barbara Pierce Bush (born June 8, 1925) is the wife of the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, and served as First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993. She is the mother of the 43rd President, George W. Bush and of the 43rd Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. Previously she had served as Second Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989.
Barbara Pierce was born in New York, New York, attended Rye Country Day School from 1931 to 1937, and is an alumna of Ashley Hall School in Charleston, South Carolina. She met George Herbert Walker Bush at age 16, and the two married in 1945, while he was on leave during his deployment as a Naval officer in World War II. They would have six children together. The Bush family soon moved to Midland, Texas; as George Bush entered political life, Barbara raised their children.
As wife of the Vice President and then President, Barbara Bush has supported and worked to advance the cause of universal literacy. She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy while First Lady. Since leaving the White House, she has continued to advance this cause.
Barbara Pierce was born at Booth Memorial Hospital in the borough of Queens, in New York City, and raised in the suburban town of Rye, New York. She was the third child of Pauline Robinson (1896–1949) and her husband Marvin Pierce (1893–1969), who later became president of McCall Corporation, the publisher of the popular women's magazines Redbook and McCall's. Her siblings include Martha Pierce Rafferty (1920–1999); James Pierce (1921–1993), and Scott Pierce (born 1930). Her ancestor Thomas Pierce, an early New England colonist, was also an ancestor of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. She is the fourth cousin, four times removed, and the second cousin, five times removed, of President Franklin Pierce.
Barbara attended Rye Country Day School from 1931 to 1937 and later boarding school at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina from 1940 to 1943. She was athletic as a youth and enjoyed swimming, tennis, and bike-riding. Her interest in reading began early in her life; she recalls gathering with her family during the evenings and reading together.
Marriage and family
She met George Herbert Walker Bush, a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts at age 16 during a dance over Christmas vacation. After a year-and-a-half, the two became engaged to be married, just before he went off to World War II as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot. He named three of his planes after her: Barbara, Barbara II, and Barbara III. When he returned on leave, she had dropped out of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; two weeks later, on January 6, 1945, they were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York.
For the first eight months of their marriage, the Bushes moved around the Eastern United States, to places including Michigan, Maryland, and Virginia, as George Bush's Navy squadron training required his presence at bases in such states.
Over the next 13 years George and Barbara Bush had six children: George W. Bush (born July 6, 1946), Pauline Robinson Bush (December 20, 1949 – October 11, 1953, died of leukemia), John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953), Neil Mallon Bush (born January 22, 1955), Marvin Pierce Bush (born October 22, 1956), and Dorothy Bush Koch (born August 18, 1959). And from their 5 living children they have 21 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
After the war ended, George Bush graduated from Yale University and the young family soon moved to Odessa, Texas, where Bush entered the oil business. They moved to several small suburbs around Los Angeles, California, before settling in Midland, Texas, in 1950. The Bushes would move some twenty-nine times during their marriage. Over time, Bush would build a business in the oil industry and found the successful Zapata Corporation. Barbara raised her children while her husband was usually away on business.
In 1953, the Bushes' daughter Robin died of leukemia. It severely affected Barbara Bush, and is the incident that is credited with beginning to turn her hair from a light brown color to chalk-white.
Over the ensuing years, George Bush would be elected or appointed to several different positions in the U.S. Congress or the Executive branch, or government-related posts, and Barbara Bush would accompany him every step of the way.
While in Texas, in 1959, George Bush was elected Harris County Republican Party chairman, in the first of what would become many elections. His first run for a prominent political office was in 1964, for U.S. Senator from Texas and although he lost, the exposure of the Bush family put George and Barbara Bush on the national scene. He would be elected as a U.S. Representative in Congress from Texas two years later; while her husband campaigned, Barbara raised her children, occasionally joining him on the trail.
As the wife of a Congressman, Barbara immersed herself in projects that piqued her interest, included various charities and Republican women's' groups in Washington, D.C. Though her husband lost a second bid for the Senate in 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed him the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, which enabled Barbara to begin forming relationships in New York with prominent diplomats. As the Watergate scandal heated up in 1973, Nixon asked Bush to become Chairman of the Republican National Committee; Barbara advised her husband to reject the offer because of the harsh political climate, but he accepted anyway.
Nixon's successor, Gerald R. Ford, appointed Bush head of the U.S. Liaison Office in the Peoples Republic of China in 1974, and thus the Bushes moved internationally. Barbara enjoyed her time spent in China, and often rode bicycles with her husband to explore the cities and regions that few Americans had traveled to. Just three years later Bush was called back to the U.S. to serve as Director of Central Intelligence during a crucial time of legal uncertainty for the agency. Her husband was not allowed to share pertinent aspects of his job with Barbara, as they were classified; the ensuing sense of isolation, coupled with her perception that she was not achieving her goals while other women of her time were, plunged her into a depression. She did not seek professional help and instead began delivering speeches and presentations about her time spent in the closed-off China and began volunteering at a hospice.
Barbara Bush defended her husband's experience and personal qualities when he announced his candidacy for President of the United States in 1980. She caused a stir when she said that she supported ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and was pro-choice on abortion. This placed her slightly at odds with the conservative-wing of the Republican party, led by California Governor Ronald Reagan; Reagan would receive the presidential nomination over her husband. Reagan, however, chose Bush to be his running mate and the team was elected in 1980.
Second Lady of the United States
Barbara Bush's eight years as Second Lady allowed her to become a common household name. She took an interest in adult and childhood literacy issues after her son Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia and began working with several different literacy organizations. She spent much time researching and learning about the factors that contributed to childhood and adult illiteracy – she believed homelessness was too connected to illiteracy – and the efforts underway to combat both. She traveled around the country and the world, both with the Vice President on official trips and by herself. In 1984 she wrote a children's book about her family told from the point of view of her dog C. Fred entitled C. Fred's Story. She donated all proceeds from the book to literacy charities. Now comfortable speaking in front of groups, she routinely spoke to promote issues she believed in and became famous for expressing a sense of humor and self-deprecating wit. During the 1984 presidential campaign, Barbara made headlines when she told the press that she could not say on television what she thought of Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, but "it rhymes with rich". She later apologized to Ferraro.
In 1988 Vice President Bush announced his candidacy for President to succeed Reagan. By this time Barbara had experienced two presidential campaigns, but broke new ground by becoming the first candidate's spouse who was not first lady to speak at a national party convention. She promised voters that she would be a traditional first lady and campaigned actively for her husband. The campaign at times focused on the large Bush family, and contrasted her with the First Lady, Nancy Reagan, by highlighting her interest in domestic staples such as church, gardening, and time spent with family while placing less emphasis on style sense and fashion; she drew attention to both her famous white hair and disinterest in wearing designer clothes. She generally avoided discussion of political issues during the campaign, particularly those on which she and her husband differed, and those closely involved with the campaign have reported that she was actively involved in campaign strategy. Bush was elected in November 1988 and sworn in on January 20, 1989 – and the nation had a new first lady.
First Lady of the United States
|This section requires expansion. (May 2008)|
Barbara Bush's cause as First Lady was family literacy, as it was when she was Second Lady, calling it "the most important issue we have". She became involved with many literacy organizations, served on literacy committees and chaired many reading organizations. Eventually, she helped develop the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She is dedicated to eliminating the generational cycle of illiteracy in America – by supporting programs where parents and their young children are able to learn together. During the early 1980s, statistics showed that 35 million adults could not read above the eight-grade level and that 23 million were not able to read beyond a fourth-grade level. Mrs. Bush appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the situation. She also appeared regularly on Mrs. Bush's Story Time, a national radio program that stressed the importance of reading aloud to children. Today, her children Jeb Bush and Doro Bush Koch serve as co-chairs of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Mrs. Bush remains active and serves as honorary chair.
She was also active with the White House Historical Association and worked to revitalize the White House Preservation Fund, which she renamed the White House Endowment Trust. The trust raises funds for the ongoing refurbishment and restoration of the White House. She met her goal of raising $25 million towards the endowment.
Bush was known for her affection for her pet English Springer Spaniel Millie and wrote a child's book about Millie's new litter of puppies. Barbara Bush became the first U.S. First Lady to become a recipient of the Henry G. Freeman Jr. Pin Money Fund, receiving $36,000, most of which she gave to favorite charities.
During her husband's 1992 presidential campaign, Barbara Bush stated that abortion and homosexuality are personal matters and argued that the Republican Party platform should not take a stand on it, saying that "The personal things should be left out of, in my opinion, platforms and conventions." Her personal views on abortion were not known, although her friends reported at that time that she "privately supported abortion rights". She explained, "I hate abortions, but I just could not make that choice for someone else."
Bush disclosed she was suffering from an overactive thyroid ailment known as Graves' disease when she lived at the White House. George H.W. Bush came down with the same malady not long after his wife. It is rare for two biologically unrelated people in the same household to develop Graves disease within two years of each other. The Bush dog, Millie, came down with Graves' disease, too, although there are reports that she had a different auto-immune disease, lupus.
Because of the remarkable coincidence of three cases of auto-immune disease in one household, the Secret Service tested the water in the White House, at Camp David, at the Vice President's residence, and at Walker's Point (Bush's home in Maine) for lithium and iodine, two substances "known to cause thyroid problems".
Life after the White House
Several schools have been named for her: three primary schools and two middle schools in Texas and an elementary school in Mesa, Arizona. Also named for her is the Barbara Bush Library in Harris County, Texas and the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. She serves on the Boards of AmeriCares and the Mayo Clinic, and heads the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
On March 18, 2003, two days before the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when her son George W. Bush was holding the office of the presidency, ABC's Good Morning America asked her about her family's television viewing habits; she replied:
I watch none. He [former President George H.W. Bush] sits and listens and I read books, because I know perfectly well that, don't take offense, that 90 percent of what I hear on television is supposition, when we're talking about the news. And he's not, not as understanding of my pettiness about that. But why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or that or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that, and watch him suffer.
Almost everyone I've talked to says, 'We're gonna move to Houston.' What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas... Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality, and so many of the people in the arenas here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (as she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.
The remarks generated controversy. In 2006, it was revealed that Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush–Clinton Katrina Fund on the condition that the charity do business with an educational software company owned by her son Neil Bush.
In November 2008 Bush was hospitalized for abdominal pains. On November 25, a dime-sized hole in her small intestine, that was caused by an ulcer, was closed by surgeons. She was released December 2, 2008 and was reported to be doing well.
In a November 2010 interview with Larry King, Bush was asked about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Bush remarked, "I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she's very happy in Alaska, and I hope she'll stay there." Palin responded, "I don't want to, sort of, concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing, because I think the majority of Americans don't want to put up with the blue-bloods – and I say it with all due respect, because I love the Bushes – but, the blue-bloods, who want to pick and choose their winners, instead of allowing competition to pick and choose the winners."
- "First Lady Biography: Barbara Bush". National First Ladies Library. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Correction Barbara Pierce Bush Genealogy". Merrill.org. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Bush, Barbara (1994), p. 16
- "Barbara Bush Biography". A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, compiled by James B. Simpson. 1988.. Bartleby
- "White House biography of Barbara Bush". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Lamar Brantley. "Barbara Bush as a Role Model". Rolemodel.net. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- John M. Broder (August 14, 1992). "Barbara Bush Calls Abortion `Personal Choice". Los Angeles Times.
- Harnden, Toby (November 8, 2010). "George W Bush became opposed to abortion when mother showed him dead foetus in jar". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Altman, Lawrence K. (1991-05-29). "Clue to Bushes' Disease Sought in Water". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Barbara Bush Branch Library @ Cypress Creek. hcpl.lib.tx.us
- "Barbara Bush 'Beautiful Mind' Quote". snopes.com. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- "Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans". Editor and Publisher. September 5, 2005. Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
- "Marketplace". American Public Media. September 5, 2005. Audio clip.
- "Barbara Bush comments on survivors spark outrage". Sydney Morning Herald. September 7, 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
- CYNTHIA LEONOR GARZA, Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle (2006-03-23). "Katrina funds earmarked to pay for Neil Bush's software program – Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- "Former First Lady Barbara Bush In Hospital". Fox News. 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Former first lady Barbara Bush released from hospital. CNN (2009-03-13)
- Snyder, Whitney (November 20, 2010). "Barbara Bush Jabs Sarah Palin: 'I Hope She Stays' In Alaska (VIDEO)". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- "44 – Palin fires back at 'blue-blood' Barbara Bush". Voices.washingtonpost.com. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Bush, Barbara. Barbara Bush: A Memoir, New York:Scribner, 1994. ISBN 978-0-02-519635-3
- Bush, Barbara. "BARBARA BUSH: A MEMOIR/Life after White House is fun and different." Los Angeles Times Syndicate at the Houston Chronicle. Saturday October 1, 1994. Houston Section, p. 5.
- Official White House biography of Barbara Bush
- Bush, George H. W. and Barbara Bush with Jim McGrath. George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush Oral History, Houston Oral History Project, July 2009.
- Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Barbara Bush.|
|Second Lady of the United States
|First Lady of the United States
Hillary Rodham Clinton