Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies At Age 92
Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Houston, Texas. She was 92.
"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," reads a statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush.
Mrs. Bush served as the country's first lady from 1989 to 1993. She passed away shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.
Having been hospitalized numerous times while battling congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she decided Sunday that she wanted to be "surrounded by a family she adores," according to an earlier statement released by Mr. Bush's office.
"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself -- thanks to her abiding faith -- but for others," the statement continued. "She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."
In January 2017, Mrs. Bush and her husband were hospitalized at the same time. She was being treated for bronchitis and the nation's 41st president was being treated for pneumonia.
Mrs. Bush is one of only two first ladies in the history of the country who is also the mother of a president. Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, a founding father of the nation and its second president, was the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. president.
Mrs. Bush is the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who ran for president of the United States in 2016.
During her tenure as the nation's first lady, Mrs. Bush, the mother of six children, was a champion for global literacy and continued the work after she and her husband left the White House.
In 1989, she formed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which encourages parents to read to their children.
"Literacy fits in with so many other things," she once told The Chicago Tribune. "If more people could read, fewer people would have AIDS. There would be less homelessness. I'm absolutely convinced of that."
Mrs. Bush has had a long history of health problems, dating back to her time as the first lady. In 1989, she revealed that she suffered from Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. She later began taking medications for the disease and received radiation as part of her treatment.
After experiencing abdominal pains in 2008, Mrs. Bush was hospitalized at Methodist Hospital in Houston. She underwent laparoscopic surgery to close a hole in her small intestine caused by an ulcer.
That same year, she underwent precautionary open heart surgery at the same hospital to replace her aortic valve. Hospital officials reported that the procedure was a success.
During her four years as the first lady, and eight years before that as the wife of the vice president in the Reagan administration, Mrs. Bush embodied what many believed to be the traditionally dutiful political wife: silent on most issues, but enthusiastically supportive of her husband and family.
In her 1994 book -- "Barbara Bush: A Memoir" -- she revealed her pro-choice stance on abortion, a position that ran contrary to her husband's.
She also reproduced an open letter to her children containing life's credo.
"Value your friends," she wrote. "They are your most valuable asset.
"Love your children," she added. "You are the best children any two people ever had. I know you will be as lucky. Your kids are great. Dad and I love them more than life itself."