Former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush died yesterday at her home in Houston, Texas. The Independent Women's Forum has issued this statement:

Independent Women's Forum extends our condolences to the family of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Mrs. Bush, who served as First Lady from 1989 to 1993, was universally admired for her forthrightness and ability to put people at ease.

Despite her aristocratic origins, Mrs. Bush was unpretentious, and her country loved her for it. She made no pretenses about her trademark fake pearls and delighted in the 'America's grandmother' image conferred by her mane of white hair.

She firmly believed that literacy was the key to solving many national problems and improving the lives of disadvantaged Americans. To that end, she established and worked hard for The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

She was essential to President George H. W. Bush's career, both as a politician and a transplanted Texan building a career in the oil business, and exerted an important influence on President George W. Bush, who sometimes traced his outspokenness to his mother.

Our hearts go out to the Bush family at the loss of this wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and to the country for loss of this model First Lady.

Just a few more thoughts on Mrs. Bush culled from reactions to her death in the press this morning. . .  

From the Editors of the Wall Street Journal:

Seventy-three years of marriage is itself an achievement few could match. Mrs. Bush said she would tell her children she married the first man she ever kissed, and never looked back. It wasn’t without her share of heartache. One of her six children, Robin, died of leukemia before her fourth birthday. Mrs. Bush was combing Robin’s hair and holding her hand when she said she “saw her spirit go.”

Over her long and extraordinary life, Mrs. Bush took her own place in American history. She was the wife of the 41st President, and the mother of the 43rd President and two Governors. More than one commentator in 2000 thought that George W. Bush won in part because voters believed they detected some of Barbara Bush’s integrity and steel. They were not easy times: Both her husband and son would be war Presidents, with the strain, sorrow and unfairness that go with it.

In 1990, when she was invited to give the commencement address at Wellesley College, a group of students whined that someone best known as a wife and mother was not their idea of a modern women. Characteristically, the then-first lady refused to let the slight bother her and delivered an address that was at once gracious and clever.

“Somewhere out in this audience,” she said, “may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President’s spouse. And I wish him well.”

George H. W. Bush biographer Jon Meacham, who also took note of Mrs. Bush's Wellesley speech, writing in The New York Times:

Mrs. Bush, who died on Tuesday at age 92, never flinched, appearing at Wellesley and using her commencement address to explore the complexities of life’s choices. There was no single path, she told the graduates; one followed one’s heart and did the best one could. “Maybe we should adjust faster, maybe we should adjust slower,” she said. “But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children — they must come first. You must read to your children, hug your children, and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

The loudest applause came when she remarked that perhaps there was someone in the audience who would, like her, one day preside over the White House as the president’s spouse. “And I wish him well,” Mrs. Bush said.

It was classic Barbara Pierce Bush: politically skillful, balanced — and good for her husband, for she presented herself as at once reasonable and reasonably conservative, which was the essence of Mr. Bush’s own political persona.

Barbara Bush was the first lady of the Greatest Generation — a woman who came of age at midcentury, endured a world war, built a life in Texas, raised her family, lost a daughter to leukemia, and promoted first her husband’s rise in politics, and then that of her sons. As the wife of one president and the mother of another, she holds a distinction that belongs to only one other American in the history of the Republic, Abigail Adams.

 The most important sentence in Meacham's piece was the first one:

She knew who she was, and she saw no need to apologize for it.

Former President George W. Bush:

My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more,” he said. “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 all for your prayers and good wishes.

What a wonderful gift to our nation was Barbara Pierce Bush.

We are keeping her family, especially former president George H.W. Bush, in our thughts and prayers at this time of sorrow.