Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Houston, Texas, just days after deciding not to seek any additional medical treatment and focus on comfort care. She was 92.
Bush was in failing health due to congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The wife of former President George H.W. Bush and mother of former President George W. Bush, Bush was active in charitable causes and promoted global literacy projects, forming the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in 1989. Bush believed in the power of volunteering with the homeless and elderly, at schools, and with AIDS patients; she told The Christian Science Monitor in 1989 that she hoped "people will say, 'She cared. She worked hard for lots of causes.'"
Bush was born in New York City in 1925, a distant relative of President Franklin Pierce and the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She was one of only two first ladies, along with Abigail Adams, to also be the mother of a president. Bush met her husband at a dance when she was 16, and they married after Bush returned from World War II in 1945, two months after she dropped out of Smith College. The Bushes celebrated their 73rd anniversary in January, and Barbara Bush told the Smith College alumnae magazine this month that "George Bush has given me the world. He is the best — thoughtful and loving." She is survived by her husband, five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and a brother. Her daughter, Robin, died of leukemia shortly before her fourth birthday.