Barbara Pierce Bush
Burial Location Visited
College Station, Texas March 12, 2019

Barbara Bush served as first lady of the
United States from 1989 to 1993. She died
in 2018 and is buried at the George Bush
Presidential Library and Museum, along
with her husband and their elder
daughter, Robin.

Robin death of leukemia at age three in
1953 was harrowing for both her parents,
but especially for Mrs. Bush. When the
former first lady passed away, an editorial
cartoon of the pair reuniting in Heaven
went viral. A follow-up drawing was
released to similar accolades after George
Bush's death later in 2018.

To reach the family gravesite, visitors cross
a bridge and traverse a walkway located
behind the library. The plot is enclosed by
a fence.

In modern times, U.S. first ladies have
often advocated for pet causes. Barbara
Bush was a staunch advocate for improving
literacy rates among both children and
adults. Her daughter-in-law, Laura Bush,
also made literacy her primary public
cause when she was first lady from 2001
to 2009.

* Fast Facts * *

- First Lady of: George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993)

  - Spouse: George Herbert Walker Bush (m. 1945-2018)

- Born: June 8, 1925

- Died: April 17, 2018

Age: 92

- Cause of Death: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

- Cemetery: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station, Texas
- GPS Coordinates: 30°35'52.3"N 96°21'01.4"W

* * * Background on Barbara Bush * * *

* Barbara Bush's hair first began to develop its trademark white color when she was twenty-eight years old, likely precipitated in part by a family tragedy. In early 1953, her and George's second child, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia. The young couple was advised to keep their daughter's prognosis private and to refrain from treatment. They were encouraged to make the three-year-old as comfortable as possible at home. In desperate defiance, the Bushes arranged treatment for Robin at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, where her strained mother stayed by her side. The regimen was unsuccessful, and Robin passed away on October 11, 1953. The couple was devastated, especially Barbara. The grief was so pervasive in her life that seven-year-old George W. made it his mission to reinvigorate his mother. Bush was not fully aware of her son's intentions until one day she overheard him declining a friend's invitation to play so he could spend time with his mother, who he said was lonely. Mrs. Bush later reminisced that she thought at the time that she was supporting her son, "but the truth was he was being there for me."

* One of Bush's enduring legacies is her advocacy for literacy, a crusade that had its roots in her own family's experiences. Her fourth child, Neil, had high marks in elementary school, but she discovered that he was unable to read aloud to her from a book. Neil's teacher could not believe this was true, but a class exercise revealed that the boy had merely hid his struggles and faked that he could read. It became evident that Neil had dyslexia, and his teacher never noticed. Barbara responded by transferring Neil to another school where he could have the attention and guidance he needed. Years later, while her husband pursued the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, Bush weighed several causes to focus her efforts on, such as addressing homelessness and teenage pregnancies. In the end, she reasoned "...everything I worried about would be far better if more people could read, write, and comprehend."

* George Bush did not receive the nod from the RNC in 1980, but he was chosen to be former California governor Ronald Reagan's running mate. The pair defeated incumbents Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, and were sworn in as president and vice president on January 20, 1981. As second lady, Barbara Bush poured herself into the literacy agenda she established during the campaign. The steps she took included raising funds for libraries, supporting reading programs for senior citizens, and advocating for English-as-a-second-language programs for immigrants. The book she co-wrote with her dog, titled C. Fred's Story, generated upward of $100,000 for the Laubach Literacy Organization and the Literacy Volunteers of America. This strategy was duplicated later when Bush was first lady with English springer spaniel Millie, whose book reached the number one spot on the New York Times Best Seller List among nonfiction publications in September 1990. The proceeds from that book went to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which continues to stress the importance of reading for both children and parents.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

"Barbara Bush Dead at 92." CBS News. April 18, 2018. first-lady-george-hw-bush-dead-at-92-tuesday/.

Cavna, Michael. "How this emotional George H.W. Bush cartoon went viral - touching even his family." Washington Post. December 1, 2018.

2018/12/01/how-this-emotional-george-hw-bush-cartoon-went-viral-touching-even-his-family/? utm_term=.ac734a2e663f.

Difazio, Joe. "Barbara Bush Cause of Death: What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?" Newsweek, April 17, 2018. 886515.

Harris, Bill. The First Ladies Fact Book. Rev. ed. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 2009.

Kim, Eun Kyung. "Cartoon of Barbara Bush reuniting with daughter who died at 3 brings 'great comfort.'" April 19, 2018. brings-great-comfort-t127340.

Lardner, George Jr. and Lois Romano. "Tragedy Created Bush Mother-Son Bond." Washington Post, July 26, 1999.

McDowell, Edwin. "Book Notes." New York Times, September 26, 1990.

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