Politics

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92

The matriarch of the Bush family had chosen to no longer seek medical treatment

Gerald Ford, Barbara and George Bush and Nancy Reagan at the 2000 GOP convention. Barbara Bush died Tuesday at 92. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday after a long battle with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She was 92.

Bush was the wife of former President George H.W. Bush, and the mother of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. She died after choosing over the weekend to pursue “comfort care" — focusing on symptom control and ceasing medical attention for her diseases.

[Barbara Bush: Her Life in Photos]

Bush was known for being directly involved in her husband’s presidential campaign while keeping her own opinions and politics out of the spotlight. She and her husband differed on several issues that she avoided talking about: notably, she disagreed with her husband on abortion and LGBT rights. She said the two issues “should be left out of, in my opinion, out of platforms and conventions,” according to a 1992 Los Angeles Times interview.

Barbara and George Bush were the longest-married presidential couple. They were married on Jan. 6, 1945.

She was happy spending her last days, according to granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager, with “the man she’s loved for over 73 years and they are surrounded by family.”

“I think the fact they are together in this and he still says ‘I love you Barbie’ every night is pretty remarkable,” Hager told the Today show.

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Bush, née Pierce, was born June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York. She met George when she was 16 years old. The two got engaged a year and a half later before he joined the Navy to serve as a bomber pilot in World War II.

In 1945, she dropped out of Smith College and got married, traveling with her husband to various navy bases, Yale University and Los Angeles before eventually settling in Midland, Texas.

Raising her family remained the top priority throughout the Bush family’s many moves. Through her husband’s career, they lived everywhere from Texas to China as her husband served as a congressman, CIA director and U.N. ambassador before coming to Washington, D.C. George Bush was elected vice president in 1980 and served in the role for President Ronald Reagan’s two terms before winning the presidency himself in 1988.

As first lady, Bush formed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which provided intergenerational resources for parents and children learning to read together. The foundation raised more than $110 million to create or expand family literacy programs across the United States, according to the foundation website.

Bush wrote two children’s books about her dogs’ lives, “C. Fred Story” and “Millie’s Book.” All proceeds go to the foundation.

During her time in the White House, Bush was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a thyroid immune system disorder. Her husband also later developed the disease.

Bush stopped seeking treatment for her failing health April 15, Bush family spokesperson Jim McGrath said in a news release.

“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others,” McGrath said. “She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”

Her husband, 93, and five children survive her.

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