Research & Education

May 31, 2018

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MAN

Woman and mother of two presidents of the United States, Barbara Bush had a fundamental role in his family, in America and in the world

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By SARA LOUP

In April 2018, the world said goodbye to one of the most striking women in contemporary society: Barbara Bush. Smart, shrewd, honest, moral, emotional, strong and faithful - also nominated Silver Fox - Barbara, left at age 92, having played a crucial role in the Bush family, fighting for civil rights and promoting literacy to all.

Barbara Pierce Bush, was the third daughter of Pauline Robinson and Marvin Pierce. She was born on June the 8th of 1925, in New York, USA, the city that does not sleep, always in movement and with lots of information. At that time, her parents had distinctive roles in society: her mother, daughter of a judge, had extensive knowledge of civic affairs, and her father was the editor-in-chief of the McCall publishing house, allowing Barbara to grow up in a family which invested in education. Thus, knowledge and literacy have always been marked in her life, being one of the principles that Barbara would defend throughout her philanthropic career.

Human and very dedicated to others, Barbara, fought for various causes of charity, defended civil rights and gender equality. For her, the rights must be equal for all, men and women, being one of the first defenders of this cause. She also affirmed that "the American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard. If we don't give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren't giving everyone an equal chance to succeed". In this sense, she created the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy with the objective of financing educational programs for parents of families with lower economic conditions to learn and read. For the former First Lady, it is in this sharing of knowledge between parents and children that we can find true love.

And speaking of love, so is the story of Barbara and George.

Still a girl, Barbara met George H. W. Bush (president of the USA from January 1989 to 1993) at a Christmas ball in 1941 in Greenwich. After graduating, George enlisted as a Marine pilot and was seconded to a mission in 1944 at the 2nd GW. A year later, the two married and had six children: George (1946), Pauline Robinson (1949), Jeb (1953), Neil Mallon (1955), Marvin Pierce (1956) and Dorothy Walker (1959).

A dedicated mother and wife, Barbara was always present in the most difficult and notorious times of her children and her husband, such as raising taxes on George H. W. Bush's mandate or the Iraq War at the time of her son's term. This close-knit defence is implicitly associated with the loss of one of hers daughters, Robinson, who would eventually succumb to a lymphoma at an early age. The pain and heartache experienced by the Bush family made them even much close:

"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". (George W. Bush)

This spring, Barbara was invited to write a note about her husband, George HW Bush, now 93, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, for the alumni magazine from Smith College: "I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago".

This is how we'll remember Barbara: a heart full of love. A fighter and resilient woman, who did everything for her family, passed values, loved and taught to love, who educated families and had the gift to inspire and teach the world.

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