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'A woman of incredible determination' - Tributes pour in for former US First Lady Barbara Bush who has died aged 92

“I had the best job in America,” she wrote in a 1994 memoir.

Barbara Bush Source: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Updated 7.30am

TRIBUTES HAVE POURED in from across the political spectrum to honour the life of Barbara Bush, former first lady and wife of President George HW Bush, who has died aged 92.

Current president Donald Trump hailed her as an “advocate of the American family”.

“Amongst her greatest achievements was recognising the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection,” Trump said.

She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well.

His immediate predecessor Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said: “We’ll always be grateful to Mrs Bush for the generosity she showed to us throughout our time in the White House.”

Obit Barbara Bush Pictured with her dog, Millie, in 1990 Source: Doug Mills

But we’re even more grateful for the way she lived her life – as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit.

‘Force of nature’

Her son Jeb wrote: “I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush.”

And his son George P Bush tweeted: “I will miss you, Ganny – but know we will see you again.”

“Barbara inspired us all to be the best version of ourselves,” said Orrin Hatch, America’s longest-serving Republican senator.

Barbara Bush Reported In Failing Health With Barack Obama in 2013 Source: Paul Moseley/PA Images

Madeleine Albright, who under Democratic president Bill Clinton was the first woman to serve as US secretary of state, remembered Bush as a “woman of incredible determination, wit and compassion who embodied America’s best values”.

Bush had gained a reputation for toughness, wry humor and straight-speaking.

“She was smart, generous, kind, and a force to be reckoned with,” said House Republican Steve Pearce.

Asked in 2010 about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin – who sought the vice presidency in 2008 – she told an interviewer: “I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”

Senator John McCain, who is battling cancer and was at the top of the ticket with Palin a decade ago, recalled that: “Barbara understood that the greatest joy in life comes from putting the needs of others before yourself.”

Plainspoken manner

The snowy-haired first lady whose plainspoken manner and utter lack of pretense made her more popular at times than her husband, President George HW Bush, died last night. She was 92.

Family spokesman Jim McGrath confirmed the death in a statement. The cause wasn’t immediately known.

Mrs Bush brought a grandmotherly style to buttoned-down Washington, often appearing in her trademark fake pearl chokers and displaying no vanity about her white hair and wrinkles.

“What you see with me is what you get. I’m not running for president – George Bush is,” she said at the 1988 Republican National Convention, where her husband, then vice president, was nominated to succeed Ronald Reagan.

The Bushes, who were married in January 1945, had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. And 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.

Bush Inauguration With her husband after his swearing-in as president in January 1989 Source: Sachs Ron/CNP/ABACA/PA Images

“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 plain fun.”

The publisher’s daughter and oilman’s wife could be caustic in private, but her public image was that of a self-sacrificing, supportive spouse who referred to her husband as her “hero”.

In the White House, “you need a friend, someone who loves you, who’s going to say, ‘You are great,’” she said in a 1992 television interview.

Her uncoiffed, matronly appearance often provoked jokes that she looked more like the boyish president’s mother than his wife. Late-night comedians quipped that her bright white hair and pale features also imparted a resemblance to George Washington.

In 1990, she gave the commencement address at all-women Wellesley College. Some had protested her selection because she was prominent only through the achievements of her husband. Her speech that day was rated by a survey of scholars in 1999 as one of the top 100 speeches of the century.

“Cherish your human connections,” she Bush told graduates.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.

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Associated Press

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