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Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush is a former First Lady of the United States (1989-93), wife of President George Bush, and mother of President George W. Bush.

As First Lady, Barbara Bush campaigned to eliminate illiteracy in America. In 1989, she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which works to eradicate illiteracy.

Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush
Biographical fast facts

Full, original or maiden name at birth: Barbara Pierce

Date, time and place of birth: June 8, 1925, Booth Memorial Hospital, New York City, New York, U.S.A. *

Date, place and cause of death: (Alive as of 2012)

Spouse: George Bush (m. January 6, 1945 - present)
Wedding took place at the First Presbyterian Church, Rye, New York, U.S.A.**

Siblings: James Pierce (b. January 28, 1922, Booth Memorial Hospital, New York City, New York - d. November 15, 1993, Chicago, Illinois, of cancer)
Scott Pierce (b. August 18th, 1930) (brothers)

Sister: Martha Pierce (b. April 21, 1920, Booth Memorial Hospital, New York City, New York - d. November 13, 1999, Bloomfield, Connecticut)

Sons: George Walker Bush (b. July 6, 1946, at 7:26 a.m., New Haven, Connecticut)
John Ellis Bush (known as Jeb Bush) (b. February 11, 1953, Midland, Texas)
Neil Mallon Bush (b. January 22, 1955, Midland, Texas)
Marvin Pierce Bush (b. October 22, 1956)

Daughters: Pauline Robinson "Robin" Bush (b. the evening of December 20, 1949, St. Francis Hospital, Lynwood, California - d. October 11, 1953, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, New York City, New York, of leukemia)
Dorothy Walker Bush (known as Doro Bush) (b. August 18, 1959)

Father: Marvin Pierce (a magazine publisher) (b. June 17, 1893, Sharpsville, Mercer County, Pennsylvania - d. July 17, 1969, Rye, Westchester County, New York)
Mother: Pauline (Robinson) Pierce (b. April 1896, Union County, Ohio - d. September 23, 1949, Westchester County, New York, in an auto accident)

Error corrections or clarifications

* Barbara Bush was NOT born in "Rye, New York" as most sources report.

Incredibly, most trustworthy publications get Barbara Bush's place of birth wrong.

All of the following publications, in some past editions, erroneously claim Mrs. Bush was born in "Rye, New York." (She was raised in Rye, New York, but was born in New York City.)

Chase's Calendar of Events

Daily Celebrity Almanac by Bob Barry

Encyclopedia Britannica

People Entertainment Almanac

Who's Who in America

World Almanac and Book of Facts

The World Almanac of First Ladies

and many, many more!

It is not our intent to denigrate these fine publications, but merely to point out the above inaccuracy to prevent further dissemination of the erroneous data.

Source information for this correction includes Barbara Bush herself, who discussed the fact she was born in New York City on page 5 of her autobiography, Barbara Bush: A Memoir (1994): "I was born in New York City in 1925, the daughter of Marvin and Pauline Pierce." Her autobiography also confirms that her sister Martha, and brother James, were both born at the same New York City hospital as she.

Simply Barbara Bush: A portrait of America's candid first lady, by Donnie Radcliffe, also confirms that her birth took place at Booth Memorial in New York City: "The family had moved to Rye, New York, shortly before she was born, but her mother's obstetrician practiced one month a year at Booth Memorial, a maternity hospital on Manhattan's Lower East Side operated by the Salvation Army primarily--but not exclusively--for unwed mothers."

** A biography of her husband, George Bush: An Intimate Portrait, by Fitzhugh Green (1990), erroneously states George and Barbara were married in "Greenwich, Connecticut." Both George Bush's autobiography, Looking Forward (1987), and Barbara Bush's autobiography, Barbara Bush: A Memoir (1994), specifically confirm their marriage took place at the First Presbyterian Church, in Rye, New York.


Barbara Pierce was the third of four children born to Marvin Pierce, a magazine publisher, and Pauline Robinson Pierce, on June 8th, 1925, at Booth Memorial Hospital, in New York City, New York. Though the family lived in Rye, New York, her mother's obstetrician practiced one month out of the year at Booth Memorial, and wouldn't you know it, that was precisely when Barbara decided to make her debut in the world. Among other things, the hospital provided care for unwed mothers, and was operated by the Salvation Army. Contrary to what most sources report, she was not born in Rye, where she was raised. Her father wanted to call her Helen, while her mother preferred Catherine. Neither would budge, so they named her Barbara, and gave her no middle name. This was specifically addressed in the 1989 biography, Simply Barbara Bush: A portrait of America's candid first lady: "Marvin, by then thirty-one and assistant to the publisher of the McCall Corporation, had wanted to name his second daughter Helen--he had had three good friends named Helen--but his wife had preferred Catherine. 'He stood firm and she stood firm,' Barbara said, 'so they called me Barbara.' And they left it at that, with no middle name."

Barbara reports she had a very carefree childhood, with loving parents, and a stable home life. She was just 16 when she met her future husband, George Herbert Walker Bush, at a 1941 Christmas dance. Barbara Pierce married George Bush, January 6th, 1945. The marriage took place at the First Presbyterian Church, in Rye, New York.

After military service during World War II, George Bush worked his way up in the oil business. His work necessitated moving his family around the country a great deal during the first few years of their marriage. Within a few years, her husband had co-founded his own oil company. Barbara was a traditionally busy housewife with a houseful of children to raise. Tragedy struck the young family in 1953 when they lost their first daughter Robin to leukemia, two months shy of her fourth birthday.

Thanks to her husband's busy political career, Mrs. Bush spent several years as the wife of a U.S. Congressman (1967-71), wife of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-72), the wife of the chief United States liaison officer to the People's Republic of China (1974-76), wife of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (1976-77), eight years as the wife of the U.S. Vice President (1981-1989), and finally four years as First Lady of the United States (1989-93). Later, with the election of her son George W. Bush as the 43rd President of the United States, she would be in the remarkable position of having been both the wife and mother of U.S. Presidents.

As First Lady, Barbara Bush was likable and refreshingly down-to-earth. She was also a formidable woman who occasionally had harsh words for those who offered what she felt were unfair or inaccurate criticisms about her husband or children. But many enjoyed her straightforward manner, and at times, candid comments. While her husband President Bush might offer a more measured, neutral point of view on a subject, Mrs. Bush could be counted on to give blunt, no-nonsense opinions on most matters, but tried to leave political issues to her husband.

She and George had been supporters of, and raised money for the United Negro College Fund for decades before becoming the occupants of the White House. Above all else, she campaigned to eliminate illiteracy in America. In 1989, Barbara founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which uses a multifaceted approach to eradicate illiteracy and support the development of literacy programs. She volunteered her time in support of AIDS and cancer patients, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and charitable fundraising. Though she gave her time to countless charitable organizations, efforts to conquer leukemia held special relevance to the Bushes. While the 1953 loss of their daughter Robin to the disease was certainly a tragedy for the family, it would lead her to support leukemia and cancer research and treatment programs. She had a long-standing involvement with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, and was a member of the advisory council of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Barbara Bush was author of the books C. Fred's Story (1984), and Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush (1990), the profits of which she donated to charity. Her autobiography, Barbara Bush: A Memoir was published in 1994, and was followed by Reflections: Life After the White House in 2004.


The most in-depth of more than six dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile:
Looking Forward, by George Bush (1987)
George Bush: An Intimate Portrait, by Fitzhugh Green (1990)
Barbara Bush: A Memoir, by Barbara Bush (1994)
Simply Barbara Bush: A portrait of America's candid first lady, by Donnie Radcliffe (1989)

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