Former US first lady Barbara Bush has died aged 92 according to a statement issued by her family.
Only the second woman ever to see both her husband and son sworn in as US president, the Bush family revealed she passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a long illness.
The family had said on Sunday that her health was failing as she would seek no further medical treatment for congestive heart failure.
Mrs Bush, the wife of President George HW Bush and the mother of George W Bush was being cared for at her home in Houston, Texas.
Hailed by many as the most popular First Lady to preside at the White House, Mrs Bush’s plainspoken manner and utter lack of pretence made her more popular at times than her husband.
President Donald Trump was one of the first to pay tribute to Mrs Bush, who is widely regarded to have been the rock at the centre of one of America’s most prominent political families.
Mr Trump hailed her as an “advocate of the American family.”
“Amongst her greatest achievements was recognising the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection,” he said.
“She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Her son Jeb wrote: “I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush.”
And his son George P. Bush tweeted: “I will miss you, Ganny-but know we will see you again.
Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle paid tribute to the way Mrs Bush lived her life, “as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling. As an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit.”
Together, they had six children including former US President George W. Bush, and former Florida governor and one-time presidential aspirant, Jeb Bush.
As the first lady, from 1989 to 1993, she embraced the cause of universal literacy and founded a foundation for family literacy.
She gained a reputation for toughness, wry humour and straight-speaking. Asked in 2010 about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin – who sought the vice presidency in 2008 – she told an interviewer, “I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”
“Barbara inspired us all to be the best version of ourselves,” said Orrin Hatch, America’s longest-serving Republican senator.
Madeleine Albright, who under Democratic president Bill Clinton was the first woman to serve as US secretary of state, remembered Bush as a “woman of incredible determination, wit and compassion who embodied America’s best values.” (The Telegraph)