Columba Bush

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Garnica and the second or maternal family name is Gallo.
Columba Bush
Bush on January 6, 2005
First Lady of Florida
In office
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
Governor Jeb Bush
Preceded by Anne Selph MacKay
Succeeded by Carole Crist
Personal details
Born Columba Garnica Gallo
(1953-08-17) August 17, 1953 (age 61)
León, Guanajuato, Mexico
Spouse(s) Jeb Bush (m. 1974)
Relations George H. W. Bush (father-in-law)

George W. Bush (brother-in-law)

Children George P. Bush, Noelle Bush, Jeb Bush, Jr.
Parents José María Garnica Rodríguez and Josefina Gallo Esquivel
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]

Columba Bush (pronounced, coh-LOOM-bah; née Garnica Gallo; born August 17, 1953) is a Mexican-born American philanthropist. Bush, who served as First Lady of Florida from 1999 to 2007, is the wife of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Early life[edit]

Columba Bush was born in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, the daughter of José María Garnica Rodríguez (1925-2013), a migrant worker and waiter from Arperos, Guanajuato, and Josefina Gallo Esquivel (born 1920) from León, who were married in 1949. Her father abandoned the family when she was 3 years old in 1956.[2] Her parents were divorced in 1963 when Columba was 10 years old.[3] She remained in León with her mother while her father emigrated to the United States.

She attended Instituto Antonia Mayllen, a private Catholic school in the historic center of León.

Columba Bush has two older siblings, a brother, Francisco Jose Garnica (born December 1949), and a sister, Lucila del Carmen Schmitz (born October 1951).[4] Her brother currently lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.[5]

Personal life[edit]

She met Jeb Bush in 1970 in León when she was 16 years old and he was 17 years old and teaching English as part of a Phillips Academy foreign exchange program. They were married on February 23, 1974, in Austin, Texas[6][7][8] at the chapel in the Catholic student center on the campus of the University of Texas.[5][2]

She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1979.[3]

The couple have three children: George P. Bush, Noelle Bush and John Ellis Bush, Jr.

Their eldest son, George Prescott Bush (born April 24, 1976, in Texas), went to Gulliver Preparatory School, studied at Rice University, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He is an attorney, U.S. Navy Reserve officer, real estate investor, and politician who serves as the Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.[9]

Noelle Lucila Bush (born July 26, 1977, in Texas) graduated from Tallahassee Community College in 2000 and enrolled in Florida State University in 2001.

John Ellis Bush, Jr., Bush's youngest son (born December 13, 1983, in Miami), who attended Bolles School[2] and earned a B.A. in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin, now works for a Miami, Florida commercial real estate firm. In October 2007, Jeb Jr. endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination and supported the effort as chairman of "Florida Young Professionals for Rudy".[10]

Columba Bush's relationship with her mother was the subject of a brief profile in the book Mamá: Latina Daughters Celebrate Their Mothers by María Pérez-Brown (ISBN 0-06-008386-7). Her sister and her mother live near her in the Miami area.[3][2]


Columba Bush has been active in promoting the arts. In 1999, she worked with Arts for a Complete Education/Florida Alliance for Arts Education (ACE/FAAE) to develop Arts for Life!, a program devoted to increasing the importance of art in the education system.

Bush has been active in programs to warn young people of the dangers of drug abuse.[11] She has worked on treatment and prevention programs such as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She has served as co-chair of the NIAAA initiative, Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, and has served on the board of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

An active Roman Catholic, she is a member of Regnum Christi.[citation needed] In 2007, together with her husband Jeb, she attended the Regnum Christi Family Convention in Atlanta.[12]

She appeared in a Spanish language campaign commercial for her father-in-law, George H. W. Bush, in 1988,[13] but generally tends to be uninvolved in politics.[14]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Jeb Bush, Catholic Convert. Will His Brother Convert?". Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Guevara-Castro, Lillian (May 5, 1999). "Florida's First Lady: Columba Bush settles into life in the governor's mansion". Ocala Star-Banner (Ocala, Florida). Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Kruse, Michael (March 19, 2015). "Jeb Bush's forgotten father-in-law". Politico (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ Fagge, Nick (2015-01-22). "An illegal immigrant, warring parents and a bitter rift with the father she did not see for 40 years – the extraordinary story of Columba Bush as her husband bids to make her the first Hispanic first lady". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2015-02-21. 
  5. ^ a b Tumulty, Karen (March 21, 2015). "Columba Bush’s painful, unlikely road from Mexico toward the White House". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved March 22, 2015. Her brother Francisco lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, relatives said. 
  6. ^ Altman, Alex (March 5, 2015). "7 Things We Learned Writing a Cover Story About Jeb Bush". Time (New York City). Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  7. ^ Gedda, George (2001-02-14). "Bush has hemisphere on brain" (PDF). Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  8. ^ "Jeb Bush's Latin 'Lover:' R-Rated - Bloomberg". Political Capital. 
  9. ^ Associated Press. George P. Bush starts small, shuns idea his name, Hispanic heritage can save GOP in Texas, Washington Post, July 20, 2013.
  10. ^ "Giuliani Picks Up (Jeb) Bush (Jr.) Endorsement", Wall Street Journal Washington Wire, October 18, 2007. Retrieved November 19, 2007.
  11. ^ "Columba Bush Warns Of Perils Posed By Drugs". Sun Sentinel. 
  12. ^ "Jeb and Columba to speak at Catholic youth encounter". Miami Herald Blog. 6 July 2007. 
  13. ^ "Father-in-Law", Bush campaign ad
  14. ^ "The Patience of Jeb (". 
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Anne Selph MacKay
First Lady of Florida
1999 – 2007
Succeeded by
Carole Crist