Barbara Bush, the witty, gregarious matriarch of a political dynasty that propelled two of its members to the White House, died Tuesday after a series of recent hospitalizations, the office of George H.W. Bush said in a statement. She was 92.
In a statement Sunday, said the former first lady had decided not to seek additional medical treatment and instead sought comfort care at home.
Bush spent her life in public service, but she never wavered from her belief that being a wife and mother was her greatest contribution to society.
“No, I’m the mother of wonderful children. And the wife of the world’s greatest man,” she told Norah O’Donnell on “CBS This Morning” in 2016 when O’Donnell described her as beloved.
And despite her lifelong devotion to the Republican party, she was not afraid to hit back and defend her family when then-candidate Donald Trump went after her son, Jeb, who was also seeking the Republican nomination.
Bush expressed disbelief about some of the things then-candidate Trump had said about women.
“I mean, unbelievable. I don’t know how women can vote for someone who said what he said about Megyn Kelly,” she said. “And we knew what he meant too!”
Barbara Pierce was born in Rye, New York, near the Connecticut border in 1925, the third child of Pauline and Marvin Pierce, a magazine executive. When she was 16, she met George Herbert Walker Bush at a school dance in Greenwich, Connecticut. After several months of courtship, George Bush invited her to his senior prom.
“After the dance, [he] walked me home and, in front of the world, leaned down and kissed me on the cheek,” Barbara Bush wrote in her 1994 memoir. “I floated into my room and kept the poor girl I was rooming with awake all night while I made her listen to how Poppy Bush was the greatest living human on the face of the earth.”
In 1943, George Bush became the Navy’s youngest pilot while Barbara enrolled in Smith College. The couple exchanged letters over the course of George’s deployment in the Pacific, until one day Barbara received a letter from another pilot saying George’s plane had been shot down. For three days, George’s fate was unclear, but eventually the Navy alerted Barbara that he had in fact survived. Two of his fellow crewmates, however, did not.
The couple wed on Jan. 6, 1945, and would go on to have four sons — George W., Jeb, Marvin, and Neil — a daughter, Doro, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. But their family life was also touched by tragedy: The Bush family’s second child, Robin, died in 1953 at the age of three after a battle with leukemia.