Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush dies at 92

A former U.S. First Lady, Barbara Bush, has died on Tuesday evening at the age of 92, after a series of recent hospitalisation, spokesman for the family, Jim McGrath, said.

“A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92.

“She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H.W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grand children; and her brother, Scott Pierce.

“She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.

“The official funeral schedule will be announced as soon as is practical,” the statement said.

Barbara served as the country’s first lady from 1989 to 1993.

On Sunday, the family said in a statement that Barbara had decided not to seek additional medical treatment and instead sought comfort care at home.

Former president George W. Bush, in a statement on Tuesday night, described his mother as a “fabulous First Lady.”

“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.

“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,” he said.

Former Governor Jeb Bush, in a statement, said his mother lived a remarkable life.

“I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush.

“Thank you for your prayers, and we look forward to celebrating and honouring her life and contributions to our family and great nation in the coming days,” he said.

George and Barbara had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January, making them the longest-married couple in presidential history.

Barbara was the mother of former President George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.

George W. Bush became Texas Governor in 1994 and went on to win the presidency in 2000, and also won a second term in 2004, a feat his father did not have.

Jeb Bush became the 43rd governor of Florida in 1999 and was a Republican presidential aspirant in 2016 but lost to Donald Trump.

Her husband, the nation’s 41st president, is now 93 years old and struggling with a Parkinson’s-like disease that has confined him to a wheelchair and made it difficult for him to speak.

Jean Becker, chief of staff at George H.W. Bush office said the former president was “broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years”.

“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth,” he said

She had been hospitalised multiple times throughout the year due to complications involving chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

In January 2017, Barbara and her husband were hospitalised at the same time and while she was being treated for bronchitis, her husband was being treated for pneumonia.

Barbara’s funeral is expected to be held at St. Martin’s Church in Houston, where she and the former president have been devoted members for decades.

Born in 1925 to Pauline and Marvin Pierce in New York City, Barbara met George Herbert Walker Bush at age 16, and they wedded on Jan. 6, 1945.

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania, former presidents and first ladies Barack Obama and Michelle, and Bill Clinton and Hillary were among dignitaries that have mourned Barbara Bush.

Trump ordered flags be flown at half mast in her honour.

The president recalled Bush for her commitment to spreading literacy, and as an “advocate of the American family.”

“She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

Vice-President Mike Pence praised Barbara as an inspiration to others, highlighting her devotion to her family.

The Obamas said: “We’ll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed to us throughout our time in the White House, but we’re even more grateful for the way she lived her life.

“As a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit.”

Former President Bill Clinton, who defeated George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election, said Barbara was a “remarkable woman” who was “fierce and feisty” in support of her family, friends, her country and her causes.

“She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives. Paul Ryan said: “Barbara Bush holds a revered place in the hearts of generations of Americans. She so loved her family and our country.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden fondly remembered Bush for her wit, intelligence and love of her family and country.

“Her tireless work as a champion for global literacy will be just one legacy she leaves behind.

“The others will be her unshakable faith, her devotion to service and her beloved family, in which she instilled that same great love of country and public service.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the presidency to George W. Bush, said Barbara was “a pillar of strength for her family and was much admired in our country.”

“Both the wife and the mother of a U.S. President, she will be remembered for her service, pragmatism, and strong, kind spirit,” he said.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also reacted to Barbara’s death.

“Always a friend to Canada, Barbara Bush leaves a legacy of dignity, grace, service and devotion to family.

“Sophie and I send our deepest condolences to Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, their family, and to all Americans.”

Politicians across the aisles also mourned the death of Barbara, recalling the former first lady for her dedication to her country and family.

The matriarch of the Bush family, Barbara was the second woman to ever have her husband and son both serve as president.

She served as first lady during the presidency of her husband, George H.W. Bush while her oldest son was elected president in 2000 and served two terms.

Her younger son, Jeb Bush, served two terms as governor of Florida, and ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016.

(NAN)

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