On January 6, 1945, George Herbert Walker Bush, on leave from active duty in World War II, married former Smith College student Barbara Pierce. The bride was twenty years old—the groom her senior by just one year. George Bush enlisted in the Navy the day he graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Still eighteen when commissioned in June 1943, Bush became the youngest pilot in the United States Navy. Following the war, he attended Yale University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1948.
After a career in the Texas oil industry, Bush entered national politics. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1966 and 1968. During the 1970s, he held several key government positions including United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Twice selected to be Ronald Reagan‘s running mate, George Bush was elected president in 1988. As president, he guided the United States out of the Cold War, presided over a U.S. victory in the Persian Gulf, and proved an effective advocate of free trade.
Barbara Bush raised six children while assisting her husband in his business and political careers. Over the course of their marriage, Mrs. Bush organized twenty-nine family moves. Like many women of her generation, Barbara Bush volunteered in a variety of social and humanitarian causes. During her years as wife of the vice president and later as first lady, family literacy was one of the issues championed by Mrs. Bush.
George H. W. Bush died on November 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas. His passing came less than a year after the death of his beloved wife Barbara.
- Visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library CenterExternal. Biographical information about George and Barbara Bush, including wedding photographs, is available at this site.
- Search the Library’s visual collections on George Bush and Barbara Bush to find additional portraits, photographs, and political cartons.
- Explore U.S. Presidential Inaugurations: “I Do Solemnly Swear…”: A Resource Guide to locate more photographs and other memorabilia of first families.
- See the Teachers Page feature presentation Inaugurations to find more information on the history of the presidency.
- Search the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection on Phillips Academy to locate several pictures of Bush’s alma mater including one of a dining hall showing students from the Bush era.