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Project Grow

11 Quotes on Life and Love From Former First Lady Barbara Bush

The wife of the 41st president and mother of the 43rd president died on Tuesday.
11 Quotes on Life and Love From Former First Lady Barbara Bush
Image credit: David Hume Kennerly | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
3 min read

When former First Lady Barbara Bush penned her autobiography, her editor placed limits on the frequency with which she could use the words “close friend,” “wonderful” (once per page) and “precious” (once per chapter). She was widely known for her loving nature, her positive outlook on life and her sharp wit. “Not bad to have had a life that was filled with wonderful people and happenings, precious family, and many close friends,” she pointedly wrote on the first page of her memoir.

In honor of Bush’s passing on Tuesday at age 92, here are some of her most enduring pieces of wisdom -- and a few trademark zingers -- about literacy, love and life.

On life:

“Love brings a tear. Friends bring a tear. A smile, sweetness, even a kind word brings a tear. In a life of privilege there are lots of tears.” (From her autobiography, 1994)

“Whether you are talking about education, career or service, you are talking about life ... and life really must have joy. It's supposed to be fun!” (From her Wellesley College commencement address, 1990)

“You have two choices in life: You can like what you do, or you can dislike it. I have chosen to like it.” (From the Barbara Pierce Bush online memorial)

On potential:

"If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities." (From the George H.W. Bush Library Center)

On literacy:

“Believe in something larger than yourself… Get involved in some of the big ideas of our time. I chose literacy because I honestly believe that if more people could read, write and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and our society.” (From her Wellesley College commencement address, 1990)

“The home is the child’s first school, the parent is the child’s first teacher, and reading is the child’s first subject.” (From the Barbara Pierce Bush online memorial)

On travel:

“One of the many things we have learned in all our travels is that it’s the people who count… Most people everywhere are interesting, and if you can’t find a friend, then maybe there is something wrong with you.” (From her autobiography, 1994)

On George H.W. Bush:

“I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell this to my children, they just about throw up.” (From the Barbara Pierce Bush online memorial)

“One of the reasons I made the most important decision of my life … to marry George Bush … is because he made me laugh. It's true, sometimes we've laughed through our tears … but that shared laughter has been one of our strongest bonds.” (From her Wellesley College commencement address, 1990)

“Once, when George and I were visiting after we were married, Mother asked him not to go to the bathroom at night because he woke her up when he flushed the toilet. George, already inventive at 21 years of age, went out the window!” (From her autobiography, 1994)

“He is my hero.” (From her autobiography, 1994)

Related: 25 Powerful Quotes Entrepreneurs Can Use to Motivate and Inspire

His Parents Loaned Him $30,000 to Start a Company. Now It's Valued at $1.7 Billion.