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Former first lady Barbara Bush has died at her home in Houston, Texas at the age of 92 at. She is one of only two women in U.S. history to be both the wife of a U.S. president and the mother of another.  The mother of six children — one of whom, a daughter, Robin, died as a child from leukemia, stood by her husband George H.W. Bush’s side during his nearly 30 year political career has he rose to become vice president and president.

Known as the “enforcer” in her family — the glue who kept the high-powered clan together, she adopted literacy as a cause, raising awareness and eventually launching the nonprofit Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. After George H.W. Bush’s presidency, he and Barbara raised more than $1 billion for literacy and cancer charities.  “I chose literacy because I honestly believe that if more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and our society,” she said.

She had been admired by many for her trademark bluntness, her championing of literacy efforts and her embrace of HIV-positive babies in the late 1980s, when ignorance about the disease was rampant.  Grief over her daughter Robin’s death from leukemia allowed her to comfort others who were afflicted and made it easy for her to relate to the underdog.

Bush battled health problems for most of her later years of life. In 1988, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that commonly affects the thyroid. In 2008, she underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer and in 2009 she had open-heart surgery.  In her final years, she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as congestive heart failure.   Despite these health setbacks, she and her husband kept an active public schedule, raising money for charity.

In April 2018, her family released a statement regarding her failing health, stating that she had chosen to be at home with family-desiring “comfort care” rather than further treatment.  According to family spokesman Jim McGrath, her decision came as a result of “a series of recent hospitalizations.”  Funeral services will be held April 21st at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

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