Tue, Apr 17, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Former US first lady Barbara Bush in ‘failing health’ at age 92, family says


Then-US first lady Barbara Bush and her son the future US president George W. Bush attend the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas, on Aug. 17, 1992.

Photo: AFP

Former US first lady Barbara Bush is in “failing health” and would not seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said.

“Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care,” spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement on Sunday.

McGrath did not elaborate as to the nature of Bush’s health problems. She has been treated for decades for Graves’ disease, which is a thyroid condition, had heart surgery in 2009 for a severe narrowing of her main heart valve and was hospitalized one year before that for surgery on a perforated ulcer.

“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others,” McGrath said. “She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”

Bush, who is at home in Houston, is one of only two first ladies who was also the mother of a president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, the US’ second president, and mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth US president.

Bush married former US president George H.W. Bush on Jan. 6, 1945. They had six children and have been married longer than any presidential couple in US history.

Eight years after she and her husband left the White House, Barbara Bush stood with her husband as their son George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd president.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement on Sunday evening said that “the President’s and first lady’s prayers are with all of the Bush family during this time.”

Bush is known for her white hair and her triple-strand fake pearl necklace.

Her brown hair began to gray in the 1950s, while her three-year-old daughter Pauline, known to her family as Robin, underwent treatment for leukemia and eventually died in October 1953.

She later said that dyed hair did not look good on her and credited the color to the public’s perception of her as “everybody’s grandmother.”

Her pearls sparked a national fashion trend when she wore them to her husband’s inauguration in 1989.

The pearls became synonymous with Bush, who later said she selected them to hide the wrinkles in her neck.

The candid admission only bolstered her common sense and down-to-earth public image.

Her 93-year-old husband, the US’ 41st president, who served from 1989 to 1993, has also had health issues. In April last year, he was hospitalized in Houston for two weeks with a mild case of pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. He was hospitalized months earlier, also for pneumonia. He has a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility.

Before being president, he served as a US congressman, CIA director and former US president Ronald Reagan’s vice president.

Barbara Bush was born on June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York. Her father was the publisher of McCall’s and Redbook magazines. She and George H.W. Bush married when she was 19 and while he was a young naval pilot. After World War II, the Bushes moved to Texas, where he went into the oil business.

Along with her memoirs, she is the author of C. Fred’s Story and Millie’s Book, based on the lives of her dogs. Proceeds from the books benefited adult and family literacy programs.

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