HOUSTON (CNS) -- Former first
lady Barbara Bush "was a model public servant and set a standard for her
unwavering and loving devotion to both family and community," said Cardinal
Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston Houston in offering his prayers and "heartfelt
condolences" to the Bush family.
Wife of the nation's 41st president
and mother of the 43rd president, Bush died at home in Houston April 17 surrounded
by family. She was 92.
A day for members of the public
to pay their respects will be followed the next day by a private,
For the public viewing April 20,
her body will lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where
the private funeral will take place April 21. President George H.W. Bush and
his wife attended services there regularly. She will be laid to rest on grounds
of the Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College
"Her family's generous and
compassionate decision to invite the public to her viewing to say their
farewell touchingly demonstrates how much she has been part of the Houston
community," Cardinal DiNardo said April 18.
"Her tireless goodwill efforts
and charity throughout Houston in recent years made a tremendous impact on
countless families and individuals in need," he continued. "She was bold and
steadfast in her convictions and an inspiration to anyone in faithful service
of helping others. May the glory of the risen Lord transform our sorrow into
Cardinal DiNardo also conveyed papal
condolences sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, via
Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio.
"Pope Francis offers heartfelt
condolences and the assurance of his prayers to President Bush and to all her
family," Cardinal Parolin said. "Commending Mrs. Bush's soul to the merciful
love of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn her passing the
divine blessings of strength and peace."
Barbara Bush, who for many years
suffered from a thyroid disorder called Graves' disease, had been in failing
health. She was recently hospitalized for treatment of chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. A few days before her death she
announced she wanted no more treatments of any kind, just "comfort care" at
She and President George H.W.
Bush were the longest married of any presidential couple in U.S. history. Married
Jan. 6, 1945, they had six children -- George Walker Bush (the future 43rd president
of the U.S.), Robin Bush, Jeb Bush (the future Florida governor), Neil Mallon
Bush, Marvin Pierce Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch. Their daughter Robin died from
leukemia at age 3 in 1953.
Bush was one of only two first
ladies who had a child who was elected president. The other was Abigail Adams,
wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.
"I may be the only mother in America
who knows exactly what their child is up to all the time," Bush once said.
She was first lady of the United
States from 1989 to 1993. She had previously served as second lady of the
United States from 1981 to 1989, when George H.W. Bush was vice president under
"I had the best job in
America," she wrote in a 1994 memoir describing her time in the White
House. "Every single day was interesting, rewarding, and sometimes just
Born Barbara Pierce in New York
City June 8, 1925, she was 16 and on Christmas break from boarding school when
she met her future husband at a dance. George was a student at Phillips Academy
in Andover, Massachusetts. Eighteen months later, they were engaged to be
married, just before he went off to World War II as a Navy torpedo bomber
pilot. He named three of his planes after her: Barbara, Barbara II and Barbara
When he returned on leave, she
had discontinued her studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts,
and they were married two weeks later at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New
York. They moved to Midland, Texas, where he entered political life, in 1950.
As first lady, Bush worked to
advance the cause of universal literacy, founding the Barbara Bush Foundation
for Family Literacy.
In an Instagram post, George W.
Bush said he and his wife, Laura, and their daughters 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," he said. "To us, she was so much more. 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
Besides her husband, now 93, and
children, she is survived by 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.