Columba Bush

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Columba Bush
Columba Bush in 2005.jpg
First Lady of Florida
In role
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
GovernorJeb Bush
Preceded byAnne Selph
Succeeded byCarole Crist
Personal details
Columba Garnica Gallo

(1953-08-17) August 17, 1953 (age 67)
León, Guanajuato, Mexico
Political partyRepublican
(m. 1974)
WebsiteOfficial Twitter

Columba Bush (American Spanish: [koˈlumba ɣaɾˈnika ˈɣaʝo]); née Garnica Gallo; born August 17, 1953) is a Mexican-American[1] philanthropist.[2][3] Bush served as First Lady of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and is the wife of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Early life[edit]

Columba Garnica Gallo was born in the community of Arperos, in the city of León, Guanajuato, Mexico,[3] 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 February 1949. Columba's father emigrated to the United States in 1956 when she was 3 years old[4] and her parents divorced in 1963.[5] Following the departure of her father, Columba and her mother remained in León.[5][6]

Garnica attended Instituto Antonia Mayllen, a private Catholic school in the historic center of León.[5]

She met Jeb Bush in 1970 in León when she was 16 years old and he was 17.[3] Bush was teaching English as a second language and assisting in the building of a school in the small nearby village of Ibarrilla[7] as part of a class at Andover called Man and Society.[3][4]

Garnica and Bush married on February 23, 1974, in Austin, Texas[8][9][10] at the chapel in the Catholic student center on the campus of the University of Texas.[4][6] At the time of the wedding, she did not speak English and a part of the wedding ceremony was conducted in Spanish.[3]


Columba with her husband Jeb Bush in 1999.

In 1988, she appeared in a Spanish-language campaign commercial for her father-in-law, George H. W. Bush, in his campaign for President[11] and she presented a nominating speech for him, also in Spanish, at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans.[3] But, for the most part, she tends to be uninvolved in politics.[12]

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.[3]

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 create Arts for Life!, a program devoted to increasing the importance of art in the education system.[1]

As First Lady she put together various art exhibitions focusing on Salvador Dalí, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo, and Florida artists.[3]

Bush has been active in programs to warn young people of the dangers of drug abuse.[13] 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.[3]

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.[3]

Bush used her platform to become an advocate on issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, and the arts, and she has been involved with organizations that advocate substance abuse treatment and prevention.[1]

During her husband's 2016 presidential election campaign, Bush visited women's shelters in Iowa[14] and New Hampshire.[15]


Columba has been known to be quiet and reserved and, before marrying Jeb Bush, she had wanted to live a quiet life.[1]

Bush and her husband reside in Coral Gables, Florida.[16] 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, Lucila del Carmen Schmitz (born October 1951), and her mother live near her in the Miami area.[4][5]

The couple has three children: George Prescott Bush (born April 24, 1976, in Texas), Noelle Lucila Bush (born July 26, 1977, in Texas), and John Ellis "Jeb" Bush Jr. (born December 13, 1983, in Miami).

Their eldest son, George, 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.[17]

In addition to her three children, Columba Bush has four grandchildren: two by George P. and two by Jeb Jr.[18]

Columba Bush ,has 2 older brothers Francisco Jose Garnica (born December 1949). Her brother currently lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.[6] And a sister named Lucila del Carmen Garnica Gallo (born in 1951)

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 Nevarez, Griselda (May 20, 2014). "The private life of Jeb Bushs Mexican wife Columba". La Opinion. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 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.
  4. ^ 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. 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 d Kruse, Michael (March 19, 2015). "Jeb Bush's forgotten father-in-law". Politico. Washington, D.C. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c 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.
  7. ^ Kruse, Michael (May 21, 2015). "Andover, Mexico and the Making of Jeb Bush". Politico. Washington, 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.
  8. ^ Altman, Alex (March 5, 2015). "7 Things We Learned Writing a Cover Story About Jeb Bush". Time. New York City. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  9. ^ Gedda, George (2001-02-14). "Bush has hemisphere on brain" (PDF). Laredo Morning Times. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
  10. ^ "Jeb Bush's Latin 'Lover:' R-Rated - Bloomberg". Political Capital.
  11. ^ "Father-in-Law", Bush campaign ad
  12. ^ "The Patience of Jeb (".
  13. ^ "Columba Bush Warns Of Perils Posed By Drugs". Sun Sentinel.
  14. ^ Bush, Columba (May 18, 2015). "Columba Bush: Support Iowa's domestic abuse programs". Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa. Retrieved July 10, 2015. For the past 15 years, I have worked in partnership with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to raise awareness regarding the impact of domestic violence in our families while increasing private resources for life-saving services for victims and their children, who often flee their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
  15. ^ McDermott, Casey (July 9, 2015). "While husband campaigns, Columba Bush meets with domestic violence prevention advocates". Concord Monitor. Concord, New Hampshire. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  16. ^ Bush, Jeb. "Jeb Bush: The Things I Really Love About Florida". Gulfshore Life. Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. Retrieved 2015-05-25.
  17. ^ Associated Press. George P. Bush starts small, shuns idea his name, Hispanic heritage can save GOP in Texas, The Washington Post, July 20, 2013.
  18. ^ "Jeb Bush Welcomes Birth Of New Granddaughter, Vivian Alexandra Columba". The Huffington Post.
  19. ^ a b "Jeb and Columba to speak at Catholic youth encounter". Miami Herald Blog. 6 July 2007.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Anne MacKay
First Lady of Florida
Succeeded by
Carole Crist