Remembering Barbara Bush

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Thanks for joining us for the Wednesday edition of The World and Everything in It. It’s April 18th. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard. 

KENT COVINGTON, HOST: And I’m Kent Covington. Last night the Office of George H. W. Bush announced that former First Lady Barbara Bush had died at the age of 92.

WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin is here now with a remembrance of her life.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Barbara Pierce was born in New York to parents Pauline and Marvin in 1925. She later met her future husband – George H. W. Bush – at a Christmas dance in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1941. She was 16 years old.

BUSH: I must say, I feel the same way about him today as I felt then. I can breathe now. Then I couldn’t breathe when I was with him, but he’s just as fabulous as he was then.  

Barbara Bush there in a 2013 C-SPAN interview.

She would go on to a life in the public spotlight, including as the wife of a Congressman, ambassador to the UN and China, CIA director, and vice president. Bush is one of only two women in U.S. history to be both a wife and mother to presidents.

BUSH: I loved being the wife of the vice president best of all, but… (Why is that?) Well, because you could say anything you wanted and nobody cared, and you could do a lot of good things.

Bush focused her time and attention on adult literacy in America and founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She was known for her trademark pearls, white hair, sense of humor and speaking in blunt terms.

Bush was a wholehearted campaigner for her husband when he ran for office, but she usually avoided discussing her own political views. As first lady, she once told reporters the issue of abortion had no place in the Republican Party platform.

This year George and Barbara Bush celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary, making them the longest married presidential couple in American history.

BUSH: He said he would show me the world. Well, he certainly has done that and much, much more. It’s been a life filled with adventure, laughter, love, and, yes, some tears. But more happy tears than sad.

Bush was typically more private about her faith than her son, former President George W. Bush. But she was an active member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston for more than six decades.

BUSH: George and I pray every night out loud, and sometimes we fight over whose turn it is, but we do. And I have no fear of death, which is a huge comfort because we’re getting darn close, and I don’t have a fear of death for myself or my precious George because I know there is a great God, and I’m not worried about that.

Bush is survived by her husband, five of her six children, 17 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) In a Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, file photo, former first lady Barbara Bush listens to a patient’s question during a visit to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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