Former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush has passed away, according to a Bush family spokesman on Tuesday. She was 92 years old.
Bush was wife to George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, and mother to George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, and Jeb Bush, Former Governor of Florida. She served as First Lady from 1989 to 1993.
Bush in mid-April decided to cease medical treatment aimed at prolonging her life and instead turned to comfort care. Bush had suffered in recent years from congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a thyroid condition called Graves' disease. Bush's health had been failing for quite some time ahead of that decision, leaving her in and out of hospitals frequently.
Bush was born Barbara Pierce on June 8, 1925, and grew up in Rye, N.Y. She met George H. W. Bush at a school dance when she was 16 and kept in touch with him as he became a Navy pilot in World War II. The two became engaged about a year and a half after meeting and were married in 1945.
The Bushes moved to Texas, where President Bush built a career in oil and later in public service. First Lady Bush was known as a catalyst for her husband's political career, often credited with keeping a detailed account of the connections the new politician made that expanded the couple's network both in Texas and Washington.
Bush founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in 1989. The Florida-based non-profit works to improve literacy in the U.S. with programs geared toward preschool children and parental literacy.
"The American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard," Bush had said. "If we don't give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren't giving everyone an equal chance to succeed."
Bush also wrote two autobiographies and two books written in the voice of the Bush family's dogs, C. Fred and Millie. Outside of her charity work, Bush was known for her vivid commentary and independent thinking that sometimes put her at odds with the more conservative contingent of the Republican party her husband led.
Bush was the only First Lady other than Abigail Adams to be both wife and mother to commanders in chief. She had six children with President H. W. Bush, plus 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. The two had been married for 73 years.