Remembering Barbara Bush

The Saturday Evening Post mourns the death of First Lady and First Mother Barbara Bush, and shares our story of her mission to fight illiteracy.

Barbara Bush. (Carol T. Powers, White House photo)

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The Saturday Evening Post was saddened to learn of the passing of First Lady Barbara Bush, wife to President George H.W. Bush and mother to George W. Bush.

An illustration of Mrs. Bush graced our December 1988 cover. Inside, we featured a story of her tireless efforts to fight illiteracy. She became involved with literacy when her husband became vice president in 1980, and her efforts and influence grew from there. She endorsed and supported the Project Literacy U.S. campaign, served on the board of Reading Is Fundamental, and convinced the McGraw-Hill CEO to devote his retirement years to literacy. Shortly after this article was published, she launched The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

The story also illustrates many of the qualities that Mrs. Bush was known for: “Warm and unpretentious, she is skilled at putting people at ease, not in a calculating way, but because it is natural for her. She is moved by people and their hopes and fears and joys and problems. Most of all, she is moved by new learners, by their courage and determination.”

Click to read “The Crusade Against Illiteracy” by John Ensor Harr, from the December 1988 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

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  1. Thank you for this tribute to Barbara Bush at this sad time of her passing. She was a pioneering First Lady, but before and after that time she was a most remarkable American woman.

    She had (in my opinion) the “right stuff” to have been a remarkable American woman President herself, if circumstances had been different, and if she had such aspirations. She had the kind of intelligence, grace, class, temperament political experience, savvy AND toughness, all beautifully balanced.

    Mrs. Bush would have been respected on the world stage as well as the U.S. as President, bringing about positive change both here and internationally. It’s something to think about, but now we send our condolences to her family.


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