Barbara Bush — literacy advocate, wife of a president and mother of a president — passed away at age 92 after a struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure.
Bush had been in failing health and, after going in and out of the hospital lately, had decided to forego further medical care and pass away peacefully at home. President George H.W. Bush was at her side.
“A former first lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away,” family spokesman Jim McGrath announced this evening.
Barbara and George H.W. Bush, 93, celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on Jan. 6.
Bush is survived by five children, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and her brother Scott Pierce. She was preceded in death by Robin Bush, who passed away from leukemia as a child.
She will be buried at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library at College Station, Texas. “The official funeral schedule will be announced as soon as is practical,” McGrath said.
A source close to the Bush family tells CBS News’ Jenna Gibson that, while Mrs. Bush’s COPD makes it difficult for her to breathe, she is alert and was having conversations last night. She was also having a bourbon.
— Katie Watson (@kathrynw5) April 17, 2018
The White House issued a statement saying President Trump and first lady Melania Trump “join the nation in celebrating the life of Barbara Bush.”
“As a wife, mother, grandmother, military spouse, and former First Lady, Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family. Amongst her greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection,” the statement said. “She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well. The president and first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mrs. Bush.
“Our hearts are with the Bush family as we celebrate the life and mourn the loss of Barbara Bush. Throughout her life, she put family and country above all else. Her dedicated service to the American people was matched only by her compassion and love of family,” Melania Trump said in a separate statement. “She was a woman of strength and we will always remember her for her most important roles of wife, mother, and First Lady of the United States. My heartfelt condolences and prayers are with the Bush family as we honor her legacy.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) noted that Barbara Bush “holds a revered place in the hearts of generations of Americans.”
“She so loved her family and our country. She led both with clarity and character. She shined a light on the power of a parent reading to a child,” Ryan said. “Her husband, our 41st president, wrote in his last days in office: ‘history will show that she was beloved because she was real and she cared and she gave of herself.’ Who could say it better?”
“My grandmother’s entire life was focused on others. For my grandfather, she was his top adviser and confidante. For her family, she was a steady, loving and guiding hand. And for her country, she was an inspiration and an example for all,” tweeted George P. Bush, a Texas land commissioner. “My grandmother didn’t just live life; she lived it well. And the sorrow of her loss is softened by the knowledge of her impact on our family and our country. I will miss you, Ganny—but know we will see you again.”
Bush was on the campaign trail with her son Jeb in 2016.
“Columba and I join every member of the Bush family in offering our sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support for my Mom in recent days, and throughout her remarkable life,” Jeb Bush said in a statement. “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 honoring her life and contributions to our family and great nation in the coming days.”
In the years after Bill Clinton defeated Bush 41, the Bushes and Clintons became close friends.
“Barbara Bush was a remarkable woman. She had grit & grace, brains & beauty,” tweeted President Clinton. “She was fierce & feisty in support of her family & friends, her country & her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like. Hillary and I mourn her passing and bless her memory.”
President Obama and Michelle Obama said in a statement, “Our hearts are with the Bush family as we celebrate the life and mourn the loss of Barbara Bush. Throughout her life, she put family and country above all else. Her dedicated service to the American people was matched only by her compassion and love of family.”
“She was a woman of strength and we will always remember her for her most important roles of wife, mother, and First Lady of the United States,” the Obamas added.
President Jimmy Carter, 93, and Rosalynn Carter, 90, said they were “saddened” by Barbara Bush’s passing.
“She touched the hearts of millions with her warmth, generosity, and keen wit. The matriarch of a family dedicated to serving, she urged volunteerism as a way for all citizens to participate in our nation’s progress,” the Carters said. “Through her own work to promote literacy as a value in every American home, countless families now have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in all aspects of their lives. She will be missed.”