13 Photos Of Barbara Bush Through The Years That Reveal A Dynamic Former First Lady
On Tuesday, Barbara Bush passed away at the age of 92. Bush was the wife of one president and the mother of another, but her legacy stands out on its own — a legacy that has been recognized by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle. From her historic 73-year marriage to George H.W. Bush to her work in literacy issues, the former First Lady garnered significant admiration and respect as she attempted to transcend bipartisan politics. The photos of Barbara Bush's life paint a portrait of a woman who was dedicated to public service, even if she did at times attract controversy.
George W. Bush released a statement following his mother's death, remembering her roles as both First Lady and as the head of a household.
“Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love and literacy to millions,” the 43rd president said in a statement. “To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end.”
Other presidents issued statements in Barbara Bush's memory as well. Donald and Melania Trump lauded Bush for "her strong devotion to country and family," while Barack and Michelle Obama described her as “the rock of a family dedicated to public service." In the photos below, Bush's dual dedication to both her family and public service become unequivocally clear.
In The Early Days
George W. Bush is their eldest son, pictured here in 1955. Barbara and George Sr. had six children, but one of them — Robin — died from leukemia at the age of three. According to the New Yorker, Barbara wrote extensively about Robin's death in her memoir, and it was a tragedy that stayed with her throughout her life.
At The Beginning
Barbara Bush became involved in political circles long before her husband became the president of the United States. Here she is in 1971, just one year after her husband lost his second bid for the Senate. At this point in her life, Bush was making important connections with diplomats in New York City after Richard Nixon asked her husband to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Watching Her Husband Become CIA Director
In January 1976, George H.W. Bush was sworn in as director of the CIA by United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. As she later did during his inauguration, Barbara Bush attended the swearing-in ceremony and held a bible for her husband.
Celebrating Her Husband's Victory
After George H.W. Bush won the 1989 presidential election, he and Barbara Bush attended a victory rally in Houston, Texas.
Walking With The Reagans
Eight years after attending Ronald Reagan's inauguration, Barbara Bush attended her own husband's inauguration in 1989. George H.W. Bush was Reagan's vice president for both of his terms before assuming the presidency himself. Here, the Bushes and Reagans are seen walking down the Capitol steps following Bush's presidential inauguration.
Advocating For Literacy
When Barbara Bush was First Lady, she started the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, in order to make literacy more accessible to families with fewer resources. According to Quartz, Bush also published two children's books. In this photo, Bush was reading Arthur Meets the President to a group of third-graders at a public school in East Harlem, New York, in 1991.
Campaigning For George W.
Just seven years after she left the White House, Barbara Bush hit the campaign trail once again — this time for her son, George W. Bush, who went on to win two terms in office. This photo was taken during a campaign stop at Bishops Court Retirement Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Her Husband & Son
In 2003, a portrait of presidents George W. and George H.W. was unveiled at the George Bush Library in College Station, Texas.
Barbara and George H.W. Bush were married for 73 years as of this January — the longest presidential marriage in American history. They met at a Christmas dance when Barbara was just 15 years old, and were engaged less than two years later. Here they are at the Republican National Convention in 2008, where John McCain was chosen as the GOP nominee.
With The Other First Ladies
In 2013, Barbara Bush and four other first ladies — Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rosalyn Carter — attended the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
With President Obama
President Obama was at the opening ceremony for the new center, too.
Campaigning For Jeb
Although she said in 2013 that "we've had enough Bushes," Barbara Bush seemed to change her mind when she started to campaign for another son, Jeb, in 2016. Jeb Bush ultimately lost the Republican nomination to Donald Trump, whom Barbara Bush criticized.
At The Super Bowl
George H.W. and Barbara Bush attended the 2017 Super Bowl, where the former president oversaw the official coin toss to kick off the game. It was an emotional moment, as George H.W. had just recovered from pneumonia and Barbara had been suffering health issues as well. They received a mountain of applause.
During her life, Bush saw her husband and son become president, campaigned for another son, actively advocated for literacy, and formed significant connections with political leaders from all over the world despite attempting to go beyond politics. She was a controversial figure, but she will be remembered by many as a woman who dedicated her life to her family even when politics were in the picture.