WASHINGTON: Barbara Bush, the snowy-haired first lady whose plainspoken manner and utter lack of pretense made her more popular at times than her husband, President George H.W. Bush, died Tuesday, a family spokesman said. She was 92.
Bush brought a grandmotherly style to buttoned-down Washington, often appearing in her trademark fake pearl chokers and displaying no vanity about her white hair and wrinkles.
“What you see with me is what you get. I’m not running for president — George Bush is,” she said at the 1988 Republican National Convention, where her husband, then vice president, was nominated to succeed Ronald Reagan.
The Bushes, who were married Jan. 6, 1945, had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. And Mrs. Bush was one of only two first ladies who had a child who was elected president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.
“I had the best job in America,” she wrote in a 1994 memoir describing her time in the White House. “Every single day was interesting, rewarding, and sometimes just plain fun.”
Her husband, at 93, is the longest-lived US president.
Their son, George W Bush, was elected president in 2000 and served two terms as the nation’s 43rd president.
He said in a statement: “My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions.”
She was a fierce advocate of civil rights and went against many of her husband’s Republican party supporters with her more liberal view on abortion rights.
In a statement from the White House, President Donald Trump said Mrs Bush would be long remembered for her devotion to country and family, “both of which she served unfailingly well”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Barack and Michelle Obama described her as “the rock of a family dedicated to public service” and as “an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit”.
Another former US president, Bill Clinton, said Mrs Bush was “feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes”.
Funeral arrangements weren’t immediately released.