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 de Gallo
(1953-08-17) August 17, 1953 (age 61)
León, Guanajuato, Mexico[1]
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[2]
Website Columba Bush Twitter

Columba Bush (pronounced coh-LOOM-bah; née Garnica Gallo; born August 17, 1953) is an American philanthropist.[3][1] 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,[1] 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.[4] Her parents were divorced in 1963 when Columba was 10 years old.[5] 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.

She met Jeb Bush in 1970 in León when she was 16 years old and he was 17.[1] He was teaching English as a second language and assisting in the building of a school in a small village outside of León, Guanajuato, Mexico, (the village of Ibarrilla)[6] as part of a class at Andover called Man and Society.[4][1]

They were married on February 23, 1974, in Austin, Texas[7][8][9] at the chapel in the Catholic student center on the campus of the University of Texas.[10][4] At the time of the wedding, she did not speak English, therefore, a part of the wedding ceremony was conducted in Spanish.[1]

First Lady of Florida[edit]

As First Lady of Florida, Bush advocated for Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and Arts for Life, a group that gives scholarships to young artists.[1]

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.

As First Lady she put together various art exhibitions focusing on Salvador Dalí, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo, and Florida artists.[1]

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.

As First Lady she visited shelters, studied reports on addiction in adolescence, put together exhibitions, and connected donors with charities.[1]

In 2003, as First Lady of Florida, Bush was part of a delegation to Rome to celebrate John Paul II’s 25th anniversary as Pope, at St. Peter's Basilica.[1]

In 1988, she appeared in a Spanish language campaign commercial for her father-in-law, George H. W. Bush, in his campaign for President[12] and she presented a nominating speech for him, also in Spanish, at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans.[1] But, for the most part, she tends to be uninvolved in politics.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Bush and her husband reside in Coral Gables, Florida.[14] 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. Her sister and her mother live near her in the Miami area.[5][4]

She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1979.[5]

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.[15]

Noelle Lucila Bush (born July 26, 1977, in Texas) graduated from Tallahassee Community College in 2000 and enrolled in Florida State University in 2001. She works for a software firm in Orlando, Florida.[1][3]

John Ellis Bush, Jr., Bush's youngest son (born December 13, 1983, in Miami), who attended Bolles School[4] 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".[16]

In addition to her three children, Columba Bush has four grandchildren: two by George P. and two by John Jr.[17]

Columba Bush has two older siblings, a brother, Francisco Jose Garnica (born December 1949), and a sister, Lucila del Carmen Schmitz (born October 1951).[18] Her brother currently lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.[10]

A practicing Roman Catholic, she is a member of Regnum Christi.[19] In 2007, together with her husband Jeb, she attended the Regnum Christi Family Convention in Atlanta.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rosin, Hanna (June 2015). "The Mysterious Columba Bush". The Atlantic (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved May 20, 2015. It’s true that she has adopted first-lady-worthy causes, working with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and Arts for Life, a group that gives scholarships to young artists. By all accounts, she advocates earnestly and effectively, visiting shelters, studying reports on addiction in adolescence, putting together exhibitions, and connecting donors with charities. 
  2. ^ "Jeb Bush, Catholic Convert. Will His Brother Convert?". Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Healy, Patrick; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (February 21, 2015). "Bush Spouse Backs Jeb, but Is Wary of Family Business". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved June 20, 2015. Mrs. Bush became more active in philanthropy, raising money for young people to attend cultural events like performances of Ballet Folklórico de México, a favorite troupe of hers. 
  4. ^ a b c d e 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. Columba Garnica Gallo was 16 and John Ellis "Jeb" Bush was 17 when they met in the central Mexican town of Lewn. Jeb was teaching English and helping to build a school as an exchange student from Phillips Academy, a prestigious prep school in Andover, Mass. 
  5. ^ a b c Kruse, Michael (March 19, 2015). "Jeb Bush's forgotten father-in-law". Politico (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ Kruse, Michael (May 21, 2015). "Andover, Mexico and the Making of Jeb Bush". Politico (Washingon, DC). Retrieved May 25, 2015. Before the Andover boys and teacher John J. Patrick helped build the two-room schoolhouse in Ibarrilla, outside of León, in their two-month trip in 1971, the village had no school at all — only a local woman who volunteered to teach the children who were interested in learning rudimentary reading and math skills. 
  7. ^ Altman, Alex (March 5, 2015). "7 Things We Learned Writing a Cover Story About Jeb Bush". Time (New York City). Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  8. ^ Gedda, George (2001-02-14). "Bush has hemisphere on brain" (PDF). Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  9. ^ "Jeb Bush's Latin 'Lover:' R-Rated - Bloomberg". Political Capital. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "Columba Bush Warns Of Perils Posed By Drugs". Sun Sentinel. 
  12. ^ "Father-in-Law", Bush campaign ad
  13. ^ "The Patience of Jeb (". 
  14. ^ Bush, Jeb. "Jeb Bush: The Things I Really Love About Florida". Gulfshore Life. 
  15. ^ Associated Press. George P. Bush starts small, shuns idea his name, Hispanic heritage can save GOP in Texas, Washington Post, July 20, 2013.
  16. ^ "Giuliani Picks Up (Jeb) Bush (Jr.) Endorsement", Wall Street Journal Washington Wire, October 18, 2007. Retrieved November 19, 2007.
  17. ^ "Jeb Bush Welcomes Birth Of New Granddaughter, Vivian Alexandra Columba". The Huffington Post. 
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ a b "Jeb and Columba to speak at Catholic youth encounter". Miami Herald Blog. 6 July 2007. 
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Anne Selph MacKay
First Lady of Florida
1999 – 2007
Succeeded by
Carole Crist

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]