June 8, 1925, in Bronx, New York


April 17, 2018 in Houston, Texas


Barbara Bush served as first lady throughout her husband George H. W. Bush’s one term in the years 1989-1993.

Barbara held the same distinction also held by first lady Abigail Adams––both were not only the wife of a president, but also the mother of another. And at age 63, Barbara was the oldest woman to become first lady and move into the White House. An advanced age did not deter her from working tirelessly, however. Indeed, many referred to her kindly as “Everybody’s Grandmother.” Barbara became a staunch advocate for literacy, and she declared that increasing literacy in the U.S. was “the most important issue we have.” To help raise funds for literacy programs, Barbara wrote a book titled Millie’s Book (a book about the White House from their family dog’s point of view), which became a bestseller and enabled her to donate substantial profits to the literacy cause. In later years Barbara wrote a number of other books to help support reading programs. In addition to raising funds, Barbara spent time visiting schools so she could read to children and also organized the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Even in her retirement, Barbara continued to devote her time and energy to this foundation. Barbara was not a one-cause first lady, however, and in addition to literacy, she also worked to promote awareness and activism regarding AIDS, the elderly, and the homeless.


Barbara once noted about her efforts to promote certain causes, “If it worries you, then you’ve got to do something about it.”

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