Barbara Pierce Bush is the wife of George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the
; as such, she served
as First Lady from 1989 to 1993. She is
also the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States , and Jeb Bush, former
Governor of Florida. United States
Barbara Pierce was born on June 8, 1925, in
, as the third child of
Marvin Pierce (1893-1969) and Pauline Robinson Pierce (1896-1949). Her father later became the president of
McCall Corporation, the publisher of the popular women's Redbook and McCall's. Barbara's siblings include Martha Pierce
Rafferty (1920-1999), James Pierce (1921-1993), and Scott Pierce (born
1930). She is a descendent of Thomas
Pierce, an early Flushing,
New York New England colonist who is
also an ancestor of President Franklin Pierce.
Barbara is a fourth cousin, four times removed of President Pierce, the
14th President of the . United
School, Ashley Hall in (1940-1943). She was athletic as a youth and enjoyed
riding bikes, swimming, and tennis. She
also learned to enjoy reading very early in her life. [As a mother she gathered her family together
in the evenings to read together. This
interest in reading continued when she was the wife of the Vice President and
President of the Charleston,
South Carolina when she supported and advanced the
cause of universal literacy. While she
was First Lady, she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and
has continued to advance this cause since leaving the White House.] United
When Barbara was sixteen years old, she attended a dance over Christmas vacation and met George Herbert Walker Bush who was then a student at
Phillips Academy in . George and Barbara dated for a year and a
half and became engaged just prior to his leaving to serve as a Navy torpedo
bomber pilot in World War II. George
named three of his planes after his sweetheart:
Barbara, Barbara II, and Barbara III. Andover,
Barbara dropped out of
College in Northampton,
Massachusetts when George returned on leave in
1945, and the couple married two weeks later on January 6, 1945 in the First
Presbyterian Church in . The couple moved around the Eastern United
States for the first eight months of their marriage as George's Navy squadron
training required him at bases in Rye,
New York Michigan, Maryland, and . Virginia
The couple became parents of six children: George W. Bush (1946), Pauline Bush (1949-1953; known as Robin; died of Leukemia), John Ellis Bush (1953; known as Jeb Bush), Marvin Bush (1955), and Dorothy Bush Koch (1959). [The couple have five living children and 14 grandchildren.] The death of Robin is credited with turning Barbara's hair from light brown to chalk white.
After George graduated from
University, the family moved to ,
in 1950 where he entered the oil industry.
The couple moved 29 times during their marriage. George founded his own oil company, the
successful Zapata Corporation, and became a millionaire by age 40. Because George was away so much on oil
business and later in politics, Barbara assumed the major responsibilities for
rearing the children. Odessa, Texas
Barbara supported and accompanied her husband in the many elected and appointed positions in the U.S. Congress, the Executive branch, and government-related posts. She supported the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and was pro-choice on abortion - as did her husband.
Mrs. Bush became well-known while she served eight years as the Second Lady of our nation. She became action in adult and childhood literacy issues because her son Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia. She researched and learned the factors that led to childhood and adult illiteracy; she believed that homelessness was connected to illiteracy and worked to combat both.
Barbara spoke at the 1988 national party convention when her husband was campaigning for President. "She promised voters that she would be a traditional first lady and campaigned actively for her husband." Mrs. Bush was compared with Nancy Reagan, particularly her interest in church, gardening, and family time as well as her emphasis on style, fashion, designer clothing and her white hair.
As First Lady, Barbara continued to work for more literacy and eventually founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She was also involved with the White House Historical Association and revitalizing the White House Preservation Fund - which she renamed the White House Endowment Trust. This "trust raises funds for the ongoing refurbishment and restoration of the White House." She set and met a goal to raise $25 million for the trust fund.
Barbara is well known for her beloved pet English Springer Spaniel named Millie. She wrote a children's book about Millie and her new puppies. She received the Henry G. Freeman Jr. Pin Money Fund - $36,000, "most of which she gave to favorite charities. Barbara and George continue to be active in political circles and have announced their support for Mitt Romney.