First Lady Barbara Bush (1925-2018)

41bushbFirst Lady Barbara Bush died April 17, 2018, at the age of 92. Born June 8, 1925, she is the second woman to be both wife and mother of US Presidents, and the first to live long enough to see her son retired from the Presidency.

I’ll leave the longer obituaries to everyone else, and instead focus on the aspects of her life that impinge on the books I’ve written.

Barbara Pierce Bush is fifth on the list of longest-lived First Ladies, at the age of 92 years, 313 days. She is also fourth on the list of longest-lived Presidential mothers (she passed her mother-in-law on that list in October 2016).

She was part of the longest-married Presidential couple. Twenty-year-old World War II veteran George H.W. Bush married 19-year-old Barbara Pierce on January 6, 1945. They had six children between 1946 and 1959 (one of whom died as a child). George took office as President days after their 44th anniversary. Their eldest son, George W., took office as President twelve years later. They are only the second Presidential couple (the first to both live long enough) to see their son elected President. They are also only the second couple to live long enough to see their son retire from the Presidency (the first, Joseph and Rose Kennedy, lived through their son’s assassination in office). Number two on that list of long-married Presidential couples are Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who married 18 months after the Bushes. Number three on the list are Gerald and Betty Ford, who were married 58 years, 72 days.

Barbara Bush was the last living First Lady who was born in New York (there were nine: New York has supplied more First Ladies than any other state). She was the second oldest woman to become First Lady (she was 63 year 226 days old when she became First Lady).

Barbara Bush was the tenth woman to be both Second Lady and First Lady, but only the fifth whose husband was elected both Vice President and President, and the only one to be Second Lady for eight full years (the first Presidential term of office ran from April 1789 to March 1793).

She is survived by her husband, George H.W.; sons George W., Neil, Marvin, and Jeb; daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch; 17 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum has set up this Barbara Pierce Bush Memorial Site.

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