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Former US First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92


First Lady Barbara Bush poses with her dog Millie in 1990. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92
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Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Texas. She was 92 years old.

Her husband of 73 years, former United States President George H.W. Bush, was with her at the time.

Barbara Bush reportedly suffered from problems with her heart and lungs.

Just two days earlier, her family had announced that her health was getting worse and she had decided to stop receiving medical treatment.

Second in history

Barbara Pierce Bush was born in 1925 in New York. Her father published magazines for women. Her mother was active in community service.

Young Barbara Pierce was admitted as a student at Smith College in Massachusetts. While there, she met George Herbert Walker Bush. They married in 1945.

She and George Bush went on to have six children. Their second child died of cancer at age three. Their oldest child, George Walker Bush, went on to become the 43rd president.

As such, Barbara Bush is one of two women in U.S. history to be both the wife and mother of a president. The other was Abigail Adams, who died 200 years ago, in 1818.

White hair and pearls

Bush was known to be a strong supporter of her husband and family. As recently as 2016, she campaigned for her son Jeb, who was competing against Donald Trump and others for the Republican Party’s nomination for president.

As First Lady, Bush was known for her commitment to literacy. She set up an organization to support reading skills, especially among young children.

And Bush was known for her physical appearance and funny way of speaking. Her brown hair began to turn gray when her daughter was sick with cancer. Bush was not yet 30, yet she refused to color her hair to appear younger. In time, her hair became all white. She said it helped people see her as “everybody’s grandmother.”

Bush was also linked to a necklace she often wore. The piece of jewelry was made of three lines of pearls. Many Americans noted approvingly that the pearls were not real, although Bush’s family was wealthy and she could buy fine jewels. And some liked the reason Bush gave for wearing the necklace – she said it hid the wrinkles in her neck.

These details and others helped give Bush a public image as someone who seemed to be an ordinary person with common sense.

Tributes

Barbara Bush was also sometimes criticized for speaking in a way that seemed sharp or insensitive to others. But this week, famous Americans have only kind words for the former first lady.

President Donald Trump called her a supporter of the American family. Former president Barack Obama noted her generosity, humility, and decency.

Former president Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush’s husband when he sought re-election, called Barbara Bush “a remarkable woman. She had grit and grace, brains and beauty.”

And former president George. W. Bush said this: “Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you for all your prayers and good wishes.”

Her funeral will take place Saturday in Houston, Texas.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. Some of the information in her report came from the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

commitment - n. a promise to do or give something

literacy - n. the ability to read and write

grandmother - n. the mother of your father or mother

wrinkle - n. small line or fold that appears on your skin as you grow older

ordinary - adj. not unusual, different, or special

generosity - n. the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish

decency - n. polite, moral and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people

remarkable - adj. likely to be noticed

grit - n. mental toughness and courage

grace - n. a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving

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