Speed Reads

remembering Barbara bush

George H.W. Bush was at his wife's side, holding her hand, when she died

Married for 73 years — a record for a first couple — Barbara and George H.W. Bush were devoted to one another, and when the former first lady died on Tuesday at their home in Houston, her husband was holding her hand.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted an update from the former president's chief of staff, who said "of course" Bush is "broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara. He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth." It's a "very challenging time, but it will not surprise all of you who know and love him that he also is being stoic and strong, and is being lifted up by his large and supportive family." Bush is "determined" to be there for his family, and "appreciates all the well wishes and support."

In his autobiography, Bush, 93, wrote that the couple had a "storybook meeting." Both were at a dance at the Greenwich Country Club just weeks after Pearl Harbor — she was 16, he was 17 — when a friend introduced them. "Since I didn't waltz, we sat the dance out," he said. "And several more after that, talking and getting to know each other." They went on a group outing the next night, and even when they both went back to school, they stayed in touch, with Bush inviting her to his senior prom. The rest, of course, is history, with the Bushes ultimately marrying, having six children, and making their mark in politics.

Barbara Bush dropped out of Smith College to get married, and in her final note to the university's alumnae magazine, she wrote, "I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago," adding: "George Bush has given me the world. He is the best — thoughtful and loving."