George H. W. and Barbara Bush's Incredible Love Story
Former president George H.W. Bush passed away over the weekend at the age of 94, just a few months after his wife Barbara. They were married for 73 years, longer than any other presidential couple. Here, we take a look back at their incredible love story.
Barbara and George reportedly first met at a dance held at the Round Hill Club in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1941 while on Christmas vacation. Barbara went to Ashley Hall boarding school in South Carolina at the time, while George attended school in Massachusetts, so the pair started a long-distance relationship.
“She was wild about him,” George’s brother Johnathan said. “And for George, if anyone wants to be wild about him, it’s fine with him.”
After a year and a half together, they got engaged just before George went off to fight in World War II with the Navy.
"I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday," he wrote to Barbara on the day their engagement announcement appeared in the paper. "Goodnite, my beautiful. Every time I say beautiful, you about kill me, but you'll have to accept it."
During the war, George's plane was shot down on September 2, 1944. He was rescued from the water by an American submarine, but Barbara didn't hear from him for what must have been an agonizing month. He eventually returned to the States on leave in late December 1944, and they wed after the new year on January 6, 1945.
When George officially returned home at the end of World War II, he enrolled at Yale University. The couple had their first child, George Walker Bush, in 1946, before George Sr. graduated. The young family then moved to Texas and later California, where George and Barbara had their second child, Pauline Robinson Bush (Robin), who died of leukemia in 1953.
The couple later had four more children: John (a.k.a Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. George eventually entered politics, serving as a member of Congress. The family moved to Washington D.C., where Barbara raised her five children as George's political career advanced. He eventually joined Ronald Reagan's bid for the presidency and served as vice president from 1981 to 1989.
George H.W. and Barbara Bush with Ronald and Nancy Reagan in 1992
In 1988, Bush ran at the top of the ticket, and on January 20, 1989, George H.W. Bush became the 41st President of the United States, and Barbara became First Lady. The couple had their first dance as the first couple to the song “I Could’ve Danced All Night,” from My Fair Lady.
Barbara called marrying George the "most important decision of my life."
“One of the reasons I made the most important decision of my life, to marry George Bush, is because he made me laugh,” she said at the 1990 Wellesley Commencement Ceremony. “It's true, sometimes we've laughed through our tears, but that shared laughter has been one of our strongest bonds.”
Earlier this year, Barbara penned a letter to her alumnae magazine giving an update on her health. She also shared some insight into her marriage.
“I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago,” she wrote for the Smith Alumnae Quarterly. “Also, George Bush has given me the world. He is the best–thoughtful and loving.”
Earlier this year, after the announcement that Barbara would no long seek medical treatment to prolong her life, Jenna Bush Hager gave a heartfelt update on the Todayshow about her grandparents.
“She’s with my grandpa, the man she’s loved for over 73 years,” Hager said. “They are surrounded by family, but I think the fact that they’re together and that he still says, ‘I love you Barbie’ every night is pretty remarkable.”
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.