Barbara Bush Quotes: The First Lady’s Best Zingers

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Barbara Bush, who has died at the age of 92, was a beloved First Lady who was known for her love of family, her love of literacy – and her sharp tongue.

The former First Lady’s wit was legendary and as much a part of her persona as her ever-present pearls. The mother and wife of a president – and only the second woman to hold that honor after Abigail Adams – Bush passed away on April 17, 2018.

Here are some of the best quotes to remember her by:

A Word That Rhymes With ‘Rich’

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GettyBarbara Bush

One of Barbara Bush’s most famous quotes came when she was asked to describe Geraldine Ferraro, who running for vice president on the ticket opposing her husband, George H.W. Bush. “I can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich,'” she said. According to USA Today, she “later apologized, and said she had the word ‘witch’ in mind.”

On Family & Priorities

George & Barbara Bush are pictured here with their son, George W. Bush, in the summer of 1955. The Bushes have six children: George Walker Bush, Robin Bush, Jeb Bush, Neil Mallon Bush, Marvin Pierce Bush, and Dorothy Bush Koch. But Robin Bush died in 1953 of leukemia when she was just about to turn four years old.

Barbara Bush was known for her fierce love of her family. “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a children, or a parent,” she said in 1990.

That same year, she also said, “Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.”

“I think togetherness is a very important ingredient of family life,” she said. That was a theme she echoed several times, also once saying, “To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”

Mrs. Bush spoke a lot about parenting. “You have to love your children unselfishly. That’s hard. But it’s the only way,” she said.

On Appearance & Getting Old

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Former President George H.W. Bush (L) and former first lady Barbara Bush (C) point from their seats on day two of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center on September 2, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Barbara Bush was known for her non fussy appearance, including her shock of all-white hair. “People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring,” she once said.

However, Bush understood that getting old was challenging, saying, “Never ask anyone over 70 how they feel. They’ll tell you.”

On War

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Texas Governor George W. Bush (R) hugs his mother Barbara Bush prior to gala celebration honoring Mrs. Bush and her husband former US President George Bush on their birthdays in Houston, Texas, 10 June, 1999.

Bush spoke candidly about war. “War is not nice,” she said simply.

On George H.W. Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush poses with his wife Barbara during his campaign for Congress in the 1960s.

Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush were married 73 years, making them the longest-lasting presidential couple. She spoke about her husband over the years, once saying, “I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell my children that, they just about throw up.”

Her famed humor shone through when she once said, “One thing I can say about George… he may not be able to keep a job, but he’s not boring.”

On Luck

George Herbert Walker Bush is pictured with the Minister of Justice, Baxter Stewart (L), his wife Barbara Bush, CIA’s vice director Vernon Walters (3rd L) and President Gerald Ford (R) during his CIA swearing-in ceremony 30 January 1976 in Washington. George Bush made a fortune drilling oil before entering politics in 1964.

Bush believed that people make their own luck. “You don’t just luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities,” she said.

On Literacy

Former first lady Mrs. Barbara Bush listens to her son, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, at a campaign event February 19, 2016 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Barbara Bush’s cause was literacy. “If more people could read, write, and comprehend, we could be much closer to solving so many of the other problems our country faces today,” she once said.

On Caring What Others Think

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Barbara Bush is seen here with her signature smile.

Barbara Bush was always dispensing advice, and it was sound. “Why be afraid of what people will say? Those who care about you will say, Good luck! and those who care only about themselves will never say anything worth listening to anyway,” she said.

On Political Labels

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Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush in 2015.

“I’m a liberal when it comes to human rights, the poor; so’s George Bush. . . . But Liberal and Conservative don’t mean much to me anymore. Does that mean we care about people and are interested and want to help? And if that makes you a Liberal, so be it,” Barbara Bush once said.