June 8, 1925 - April 17, 2018

Barbara Pierce Bush

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

Barbara Pierce Bush Biography

June 8, 1925 - April 17, 2018

Barbara Bush often jokes that her successful life is a result of marrying well. Her husband's service as Vice President and President of the United States provided her a unique opportunity to make a wonderful difference in the public eye.

Barbara Bush’s signature cause is family literacy, a passion that began during the 1980s when statistics showed that 35 million U.S. adults could not read above the eighth-grade level. During her husband’s vice-presidential years, she unveiled billboards, visited Head Start and Even Start classes, supported alternative school programs for at-risk students like Cities in Schools, and participated in a variety of media programs to raise awareness of the basic need for every citizen to be able to read. In 1984, Mrs. Bush also published C. Fred’s Story: A Dog’s Life, which raised $100,000 for Literacy Volunteers of America and Laubach Literacy Action.

As First Lady, Mrs. Bush took the family literacy movement to a new level of national awareness when she launched the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, focusing simultaneously on early childhood education for preschoolers and adult literacy for their parents. In 1990, she published a second book, Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush, which sold more than 300,000 copies in its first year and raised nearly $900,000 for her new foundation. She also launched Mrs. Bush's Story Time, a national radio program that stressed the importance of reading aloud to children. In 1991, Mrs. Bush and other advocates celebrated the passage of the National Literacy Act, which created the National Institute for Literacy and permitted the use of libraries and other municipal property as evening literacy centers for adults.

Since leaving the White House, Mrs. Bush has continued to volunteer her time to worthy causes and help others. Her Foundation for Family Literacy, from which she stepped aside in 2014, has raised and awarded over $50 million to create or expand family literacy programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. She also served as AmeriCares ambassador-at- large; a Mayo Clinic Foundation board member; and a supporter of organizations including the Leukemia Society of America, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Born in 1925 to Pauline and Marvin Pierce, she grew up in Rye, New York, where she met and later married George H.W. Bush on January 6, 1945. They have four sons – George W., Jeb, Marvin, and Neil – a daughter, Doro, 17 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. The Bush family's second child, Robin, died in 1953 at the age of three after fighting leukemia.

Several schools have been named for Mrs. Bush, including middle schools in San Antonio and Irving, Texas; and elementary schools in Houston, the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, and Mesa, Arizona. Also bearing her name is the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Mrs. Bush chronicled her life’s story in two autobiographies: Barbara Bush: A Memoir (1994), which covered her life through her husband’s term in office; and Reflections (2004), which focused on life after the White House and her first son’s ascension to the presidency.

Vice President & Mrs. Bush at Kennebunkport, ME

Vice President & Mrs. Bush at Kennebunkport, ME, 06 Aug 88

Mrs.Bush reads to students

Mrs.Bush reads to students of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, 16 Oct 91

Mrs.Bush at the opening celebration for Millie’s Book

Mrs.Bush at the opening celebration for Millie’s Book, 12 Sep 90