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04.17.18

Barbara Bush 1925-2018

Barbara Bush

F
ORMER FIRST LADY Barbara Bush was a servant leader. One of the most beloved first ladies in American history. She was witty, smart, sharp, straightforward, unpretentious, and honest.

Born Barbara Pierce on June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York, she was the daughter of a publishing executive and distant cousin of President Franklin Pierce. She has been called the “Matriarch of a Dynasty.” As the wife of the 41st president and the mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush, she was one of two women in American history to have a son of hers follow his father to the White House. The first was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.

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

She was a valuable ally in her husband’s political career. Her son George W. Bush wrote in 41: A Portrait of My Father, “One thing was for sure, Barbara Bush was willing to speak her mind.” During her husband’s 1992 reelection campaign she told the Los Angeles Times, “Some people share in their husband’s work and some don’t. That’s going to depend upon the marriage or their wife’s work. But you have to have influence. When you’ve been married 47 years, if you don’t have any influence, then I really think you’re in deep trouble.”

She worked relentlessly for family literacy. “You know sit with your arm around a little kid and read. It not only teaches them to read but it keeps the family strong.” She believed, “Everything I worry about would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend.”

Here is a selection of her thoughts on life:

“I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life.”

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”

“Your success as a family... our success as a nation... depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

"George Bush has given me the world. He is the best -- thoughtful and loving."

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.”

“You may think the president is all powerful, but he is not. He needs a lot of guidance from the Lord.”

She told those gathered at Wellesley College for her June 1990 commencement address:
I hope that many of you will consider making three very special choices.

The first is to believe in something larger than yourself, to get involved in some of the big ideas of our time.

And early on I made another choice, which I hope you'll make as well. Whether you are talking about education, career, or service, you're talking about life -- and life really must have joy. It's supposed to be fun.

The third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections: your relationships with family and friends. For several years, you've had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work. And, of course, that's true. But as important as your obligations as a doctor, a lawyer, a business leader will be, you are a human being first. And those human connections --- with spouses, with children, with friends -- are the most important investments you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.

And who knows? Somewhere out there in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president's spouse. I wish him well!

She concluded her 1994 memoir with:
George Bush and I have been the two luckiest people in the world, and when all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family, and friends. We have been inordinately blessed, and we know that.


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:41 PM
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