REMEMBERING BARBARA BUSH
Author: Jeffrey Schools, WFAA Staff
Published: 2:08 PM EDT April 15, 2018
Updated: 12:54 AM EDT April 18, 2018
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REMEMBERING BARBARA BUSH

LOCAL
Chapter 1

Former first lady Barbara Bush, literacy advocate and longtime Maine resident, dies at 92

Barbara Bush, former first lady, advocate for universal literacy and longtime seasonal resident of Maine, has died at age 92, a spokesperson for the Bush family confirmed Tuesday night. Mrs. Bush was first lady from 1989 to 1993 while her husband, George H.W. Bush, served as the 41st President of the United States.

Barbara Bush was born on June 8, 1925, in New York City and raised in the nearby city of Rye. She met George H.W. at a Christmas dance in 1941 at the age of 16 and less than two years later they were engaged. They married in 1945 when George H.W., a Navy pilot, returned from World War II.

A year later while her husband attended Yale University, Mrs. Bush gave birth to her first child, future president George W. Bush The family would move numerous times before settling in Texas in 1950.

The national political spotlight began shining on Maine when George H.W. Bush was elected Ronald Reagan’s vice president in 1980, and it intensified after Bush was elected president in 1988.

► Photos: First Lady Barbara Bush through the years

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Over the years it became a familiar sight: Barbara Bush visiting hospitals in Maine, often reading to children. It was a way of combining two of her passions — kids and literacy.

Mrs. Bush told NEWS CENTER she chose literacy as her cause as her husband was running for president. "I wanted a cause that would cost no government money, that would have a volunteer corps, and that would help the most Americans possible."

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has distributed tens of millions of dollars in grants. The former first lady also gave her name and support to Maine's only children's hospital, founded in 1985 — The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

In her extraordinary position as a wife of one president and mother of another, Barbara Bush was fiercely loyal to her family, even as she admitted that she was skeptical of her son George W.'s prospects. "I told him he couldn't win if that's what you mean," Bush said with a somewhat straight face. "I told him he couldn't win as governor, either!"

Despite living much of her life in Texas, Barbara Bush's ties to Maine were always strong. In 2012, she and her husband told NEWS CENTER about why they loved their summers at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport. She said it has been important to them to be part of the community.

Her affection for Maine was returned. Mrs. Bush was overwhelmed by the surprise dedication of a garden in her honor. "I hope you know how much this means to me — I’m just so grateful."

Chapter 2

Close friends say she was 'the mother of Maine'

Friends of the Bush family in Kennebunkport and beyond remember the former First Lady as someone who made everyone feel comfortable.

Shortly after the official announcement from family spokesperson Jim McGrath that Mrs. Bush had passed away Tuesday night, the flag at the Walker's Point compound was lowered to half staff.

A makeshift memorial also appeared. A University of New England Field Hockey t-shirt, with a message written on it: "Mrs. Bush, always in our hearts, Love, the Nor'Easters."

Friends like Evelyn Paine, wife of artist Bob Paine, whose gallery Mrs. Bush and her husband visited in 1981, purchasing a painting of Walker's Point, remember Mrs. Bush always making them feel like family when they spent time together.

"I think she was the best First Lady ever," said Paine. "She was so giving and gracious and she makes people feel very comfortable around her. She makes people a part of her."

Paine and Mrs. Bush had a running tradition of taking turns who would pay for dinner each year before the Bush family returned to Texas.

In Ogunquit, the owners of Barnacle Billy's restaurant remember hosting Mrs. Bush and her husband as often as 15 times a year for a meal: sometimes large family gatherings, or just an intimate lunch.

”I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met because it was inside and out and you could just see it. She was down to earth. She was honest. She would tell it like it is. We love her," said Meg Tower, the bar manager at the restaurant. "She was the mother of Maine."

”She's an example of matriarch of our country. There’s a person you hope every person in the United States brings up their family the way she did hers," said Meg's sister, Tim Tower, the manager of the restaurant.

"We have been very lucky in our lives to have known such a wonderful person," Tim wrote in a text message after hearing the news that Mrs. Bush passed.

Chapter 3

Jacob Thompson's family reacts

The family of Jacob Thompson, the nine-year-old Saco boy who received well-wishes and Christmas cards from hundreds of thousands of people around the world, is thanking former first lady, Barbara Bush, and wishing her well as she faces her latest health battle.

► RELATED | Jacob Thompson's family sends well-wishes to Barbara Bush

Chapter 4

Many react to Barbara Bush's health via Social Media

The immediacy of the Internet allows people to become a community very quickly. Sunday, people all across the United States and the world expressed well wishes to Barbara Bush via social media platforms.

► RELATED | Well wishes pour in for Barbara Bush via social media

Chapter 5

Barbara in Maine

Chapter 6

Barbara Bush in Photos

NEWS CENTER Maine will update this story.