Barbara Bush, Gravely Ill, Opts To Halt Treatment

Mrs. Bush suffers from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or C.O.P.D. In recent years, she has needed a walker and an oxygen tank, and her public appearances have grown fewer. In an update published by the alumnae magazine of her alma mater, Smith College, she wrote, “I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago.”

Her failing health drew statements of concern and affection from many, especially in the extended world of Bush friends, allies and former aides.

Andrew H. Card Jr., who was transportation secretary in the first Bush administration and White House chief of staff in the second, had lunch with Barbara and George Bush a few weeks ago and said the former first lady still retained her spirit.

“She is more than a matriarch,” Mr. Card said by telephone on Sunday. “She was a greater conscience to her husband, to her sons, to her daughter and to those who had the benefit of being in her proximity. She was an unvarnished purveyor of the truth and motivated us all to be better people. And she was also contagious with love.”

Born Barbara Pierce on June 8, 1925, she grew up in Rye, N.Y., and was 16 when she met George Bush at a school dance. They stayed in touch when he enlisted as a Navy pilot in World War II and married in 1945. They moved to Texas, where Mr. Bush built an oil business and eventually ran for office. She helped his political career with a methodically kept card file of people he met, building a network that the two would maintain throughout their lives.

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Barbara Bush, Gravely Ill, Opts To Halt Treatment


Barbara Bush, Gravely Ill, Opts To Halt Treatment