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A farewell to Barbara Bush
An English rose in Georgia
Lesley Francis - 2016
Lesley Francis grew up in London, England, and made Georgia her home in 2009. - photo by File photo

Time flies, and as the years go by ever faster, it is a sobering fact that the "grown-ups" of our youth get older.

Last week back in the land of my birth, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 92nd birthday, while on this side of the pond, we said goodbye to the 92-year-old matriarch of the Bush family, Barbara Bush.

I was just starting my career in marketing in London when Barbara Bush really came into the limelight when her husband George H. W. Bush was inaugurated as president in January 1989. He succeeded Ronald Reagan, and he continued the special relationship his predecessor had established with Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.

Barbara is best known as the wife of the nation’s 41st president and mother of the 43rd president, George W. Bush, but she was so much more than that.

Barbara Bush’s maiden name was Pierce, and she was born and raised in an Episcopalian family in New York state. Her father was a distant descendant of the 14th president of the United States, Franklin Pierce.

She headed south at the age of 15 when she attended a boarding school in Charleston, South Carolina, and during her long and eventful life lived in Connecticut, Texas, California, Washington, D.C, and ultimately retired to Texas.

She married at the age of 19 in January 1945 after her fiancé George had a brush with death when the plane he was piloting got hit during a bombing run in the Pacific. She and George enjoyed an incredible 73 years of marriage, and they were the longest-married couple in presidential history.

Mrs. Bush was only the second woman in American history to have a son follow his father to the White House, with Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, being the first.

Barbara was often portrayed as a motherly figure, and in fact had four sons and two daughters, although one daughter, Robin, sadly died in infancy.

Reported to be honest, straight talking, determined and witty, Barbara was known as "the enforcer" in the Bush family. Her favorite color was blue, and she often wore this color with her trademark pearls. She never worried too much about fashion, and her own style can be described as very traditional.

She had a love of literature and was a keen advocate for education. She was both a dog lover and a big supporter of children’s literacy, and she put these two passions together to author a children’s book about life in the White House from an English springer spaniel’s perspective in "Millie’s Book."

This reached No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller’s List in 1990 and, along with an earlier book about life as the furry sidekick of a vice president with "C. Fred’s Story," raised significant funds for The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Almost 30 years later, this great cause continues its important work. Check out for more information.

Barbara Bush once said, "The American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard. If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed."

Well said. And rest in peace, Mrs. Bush.

God Bless America!

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