By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer
Former first lady Barbara Bush, who lived in Texas with her husband, former President George H. W. Bush, did more than just visit Baylor University. Her efforts advocating for women’s rights and literacy for all earned her an honorary doctoral degree from the university in 2002.
Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92 after deciding to not receive medical help for her failing health.
Her body was taken Wednesday to the George Lewis Funeral Home in Houston for private visitations Wednesday and Thursday. The public will be able to pay their respect from noon to midnight Friday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone said the Bush family is in her prayers.
“First Lady Barbara Bush served our nation with exemplary integrity and compassion. Baylor University was honored to award her an honorary doctorate in 2002 for her role as a champion of volunteerism and family literacy,” Livingstone said. “The Baylor family has long been admirers of the entire Bush family for their enduring place in our nation’s history, and we will hold them in our prayers today and into the future.”
Along with Abigail Adams, Barbara Bush is the second first lady to also be a mother of a president. Bush is mother to George W. Bush, the 43rd president. Adams, the second American first lady and wife to founding father John Adams, was the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president.
Eric Soo, Portland, Ore., senior and member of Baylor Republicans, said Barbara Bush helped change lives and that she serves as a model example for women everywhere.
“First Lady Bush was a role model for Republican women across the nation. Her holding an infected baby of HIV in the hospital changed how the public perceived AIDS. That gesture was a love only an authentic and caring mother could portray,” Soo said.
Dr. Ann Ward, professor of political science, said Bush was a women with dignity and an influential person for the entire country.
“As the wife of one president, the mother of another president, and the mother of a candidate for president, Barbara Bush’s influence on the American republic is deep and lasting,” Ward said. “Being laid to rest beside her daughter Robin who died of Leukemia at the age of 3, she is an example to us of how to live life with dignity and hope even in the face of great pain.”
George W. Bush, who served as president from 2001-2009, wrote in a statement that his mother brought many attributes to the White House.
“Barbara Bush was a fabulous first lady unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end,” the statement said.
Both the Bush’s advocated heavily for literacy and created the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. After Bush’s presidency, they both raised millions of dollars for cancer research and charities.
Former President Bill Clinton also released a statement expressing he and his wife’s, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, condolences for the Bushs.
“Barbara Bush was a remarkable woman. She had grit and grace, brains and beauty. She was fierce and feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like. Hillary and I mourn her passing and bless her memory,” the Clintons wrote.
In 2002, Bush also received an honorary degree from Baylor. Mrs. Bush visited Baylor University as a guest lecturer in Baylor’s President’s Forum Lecture Series. Her lecture focused on “Faith, Family and Friends — My Life After the White House.”
During the event, former Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. awarded the former first lady an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Bush was the second of the Bushes to receive this award from Baylor.
In a press release sent out by Baylor after the event, the university said Barbara Bush was a true civilitan, designating her life to lifelong community service.
“Mrs. Bush was recognized for her national work in volunteerism, particularly her commitment to family literacy through the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, as well as a rigorous appearance schedule to emphasize reading as a part of daily family life. The foundation has distributed $10 million to 305 programs in 44 states across the nation, giving $2 million to 70 programs in 46 different Texas communities,” the press release said.
During her lecture, Barbara Bush laughed and reminicesd on her time during while in the White House.
According to Baylor’s press release, Barbara Bush joked about her presence at the event and took a moment to remember her son, George W. Bush.
“I’ll be sure to tell George W. that you saved the best for last,” Barbara Bush joked during her lecture.
Barbara Bush’s funeral will be held Saturday in Houston at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church where she and her husband were devoted members for decades.