According to an official statement from George W. Bush's office, former first lady Barbara Bush died on Tuesday. Barbara was 92 years old and had been suffering congestive cardiac issues as well as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), according to reports.
Over the past few years, Barbara's health had declined. In 2008, she went through an intestinal surgery. Then in 2009, the former first lady was hospitalized to undergo an aorta-related operation that took more than two hours, according to CNN. Her surgeon, Gerald Lawrie, told CNN that Barbara was a "remarkable patient." In 2013, Barbara was hospitalized after being diagnosed with and treated for pneumonia.
On April 16, CNN reported that the former first lady would no longer seek hospitalization for her illnesses and said that she would instead receive "comfort care" in the presence of her family members. At the time, Bush's office released a statement which explained her decision.
"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. She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving," the statement from Bush's office said.
The CNN report on April 16 said that Barbara had been temporarily hospitalized at Houston Methodist Hospital after suffering respiratory issues. She was released after her breathing improved but in the past few days, the news network reported that the former first lady's health began to worsen.
On Tuesday night, Bush's office released a statement on Barbara's death and said, "My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions."
The former Republican president added, "To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes."
Prominent political figures reacted to Barbara's death by offering condolences and sympathy to the Bush family. Former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement on Barbara's death and wrote, "We will never forget the courtesy and kindness she and President Bush showed us, starting when I was governor in 1983. I'll always treasure my summer visits to Kennebunkport. Barbara joked that George and I spent so much time together I had become almost a member of the family, the 'black sheep' that had gone astray."
Former vice president Al Gore tweeted that Barbara would be "remembered for her service, pragmatism, and strong, kind spirit."
Fellow Republicans also spoke highly of Barbara, including House Speaker Paul Ryan who said that she was "so loved in her family and our country." He added that she "led both with clarity and character."
While politicians praised her for different reasons, her own family members had previously spoken of how Barbara kept the house in order as a mother. In 2016 interview with CNN, Bush said, "We were rambunctious a lot, pretty independent-minded kids, and, you know, she had her hands."
Bush told CNN that while his father was busy outside the house, Barbara would ensure the kids behaved themselves. Her personality landed her a title among her children, apparently. "Mother was there to maintain order and discipline," Bush said. "She was the sergeant."