Former First Lady Barbara Bush dead at 92
KENNEBUNKPORT (WGME) -- A spokesperson for the Bush family has confirmed that former First Lady Barbara Bush has died at the age of 92.
On Tuesday, CBS News reported that Bush was in failing health but in "great spirits." She was alert and having conversations while drinking bourbon. She suffered from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Funeral arrangements have not been made at this time.
The former First Lady's connection to Maine began when she married, as she is quoted as saying, "the first man I ever kissed," George Herbert Walker Bush.
She was just 19 years old and it was 1945.
That's when she and the former President began spending their summers at the family home on Walker's Point in Kennebunkport.
It’s a tradition that continued for decades.
CBS 13 spoke with Mrs. Bush in 1995, shortly after she had learned that Maine Medical Center wanted to name its new children's hospital after her.
"I said, to George, ‘Isn't that the funniest thing,’ they came to me to urge me to do it,” Bush said. “I mean, something so exciting and flattering as though I'd say, 'Oh no, no thank you, no thank you.’ They've stretched my life. Oh, that's so nice, that's so nice."
The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital is a lasting legacy to a woman who knew the pain of losing a child. She and her husband lost their daughter Robin to leukemia, back at a time when family visiting hours were restricted.
"It makes an enormous difference,” Bush said. “You know, George and I had a child who was sick and we had definitely visiting hours until the very end, then we were allowed to be with her all the time. And that's, first of all it helps the child, they're frightened in a hospital and today, we now know that to have parents there makes an enormous difference.”
Mrs. Bush stayed connected to the hospital, combining her love of children with another of her great passions, literacy.
Mrs. Bush read to children at the hospital every summer, and supported literacy efforts through the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation in Maine.
The foundation has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to literacy programs all over Maine.
"If we don't teach our children to read and write, to understand and we don't teach mothers and fathers how important parenting is, our country's going to be in terrible shape," Bush said.
Over the past few years, Mrs. Bush kept a lower profile, though she and her husband continued to be active members of the Kennebunkport community.
She was often seen wearing her signature pearls, even donating a strand to the George and Barbara Bush Center at the University of New England.
A lifelong love of Maine, that began when she found the love of a lifetime.
"That's what George Bush has done for me,” Bush said. “He's allowed me to have a hospital named after me and introduced me to all the world leaders, pretty exciting."