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.
The 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.
On the campaign trail
In 2001, when George W. Bush took office, Barbara Bush became the only woman in American history to live to see her husband and son elected president.
She campaigned for son George W. and fiercely defended him from critics after he became president.
Asked in a 2013 interview about the prospect that her younger son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, might mount a White House campaign in 2016, Bush quipped in her dry fashion, “We’ve had enough Bushes.”
But when Jeb decided to run, she changed her mind and campaigned for him, appearing in a video for Jeb Bush’s ultimately unsuccessful campaign, saying, “I think he’ll be a great president.”
She also was outspoken about Donald Trump. In one of her last interviews, the former first lady said in early 2016 she was “sick” of Trump, who belittled her son repeatedly during the 2016 GOP primary campaign, adding that she doesn’t “understand why people are for him.”
“I’m a woman,” she added. “I’m not crazy about what he says about women.”
Most recently, Bush published a note in the spring edition of Smith College’s alumnae magazine, where she declared: “I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago.”
Bush battled health problems for much of her later life. She was diagnosed in 1988 with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that commonly affects the thyroid. She had open-heart surgery in 2009 and in 2008 underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer.
In her final years, she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, as well as congestive heart failure. But, along with her husband, she kept an active public schedule, raising money for charity.
Bush is survived by her husband, George H.W.; sons George W., Neil, Marvin and Jeb; daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch; and 17 grandchildren.