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The two wives were formidable women, protective of their husbands, and their relationship during the Reagan administration was noticeably icy. The Bushes were seldom invited to the Reagan White House’s family quarters. As first lady, Mrs. Bush established the nonprofit Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, to which she donated nearly $800,000 in after-tax proceeds from her best-selling “Millie’s Book” (1990), which channeled the voice of her White House pet dog. She also encouraged people to volunteer at homeless shelters and Head Start projects, and she promoted AIDS awareness when the disease was still highly stigmatized and misunderstood.

In 1989, she made front-page headlines when she visited Grandma’s House, a pediatric AIDS care center in the District, and cradled an infant patient at a time when many people mistakenly believed the disease could be contracted through mere proximity to the virus, She attended in 1990 the funeral of Ryan White, the teenager ballet shoes for toddlers who had fought to return to public school in Indiana after he contracted the AIDS virus through a blood transfusion, (Her husband signed into law what is now the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to help provide services for people with the disease, but AIDS advocates have regarded the program as inadequately funded for years.)..

Mrs. Bush sat on the board of the historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta and was reported to have played a role in the selection of her friend Louis Sullivan, the president of Morehouse’s medical school, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Despite her preferences for staying behind the scenes, Mrs. Bush wasn’t shy about expressing her own views. At times, Mrs. Bush made public statements that seemed to conflict with her husband’s policies, including his opposition to abortion rights and gun-control measures. But she adamantly resisted being pulled into discussions about personal and controversial topics, dispatching unwanted questions with salty humor or a sharp, “Next question.”.

In a rare misstep while joking with reporters, she referred to Geraldine Ferraro, her husband’s vice-presidential opponent in 1984, as “that $4 million – I can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich.’ ” She quickly apologized, The ballet shoes for toddlers White House staff adopted a nickname bestowed on her by her children – the “Silver Fox” – and took care not to cross her, She was known to stare down aides she thought were not performing up to task for her husband..

In one incident, Mrs. Bush put Craig Fuller, chief of staff to then-Vice President Bush, on notice after friends and supporters complained that he was not returning their calls. As she watched him sift through a stack of messages, she snapped, within her husband’s earshot, “Keep looking. . . . You’ll find a couple from me.”. During four years as first lady, Mrs. Bush consistently ranked among the nation’s most-admired women, with high poll numbers that contrasted with her husband’s tumbling ratings. During the 1992 election, she was often deployed by the Bush campaign as a surrogate to humanize a president not known for charisma or the common touch.

She was, many commentators agreed, his most valuable asset in a race against then-Arkansas Gov, Bill Clinton, an agile campaigner who pounded Bush on the economy, and wild card candidate Ross Perot, a Texas billionaire running as ballet shoes for toddlers an independent, Mrs, Bush generally managed to avoid the sorts of intrigues and uproars that perturbed her predecessor as first lady and her eventual successor, Hillary Clinton, a lawyer and activist, who promised to be a partner in her husband’s public life and memorably defended her career by remarking, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.”..

In her no-nonsense way, Mrs. Bush rejected the idea of the election being a referendum on dramatic generational change and pushed back against polls that said she was better liked by the electorate than her husband. “Nobody is jealous of me,” she told The Washington Post. “I mean, look at me. Who would be? It’s easy to like me. They like George, and they respect him. But he has to say no to people because he has to do what’s right for the country, and that’s hard.”.

– – –, Barbara Pierce was born in New York City on June 8, 1925, and raised in the tony suburb of Rye, New York, She was one of four children of the former Pauline Robinson, the daughter of an Ohio Supreme ballet shoes for toddlers Court justice, and Marvin Pierce, a top executive of McCall Corp., which published Redbook and McCall’s magazines, As a child, Barbara stood out physically, having reached 5 foot 8 and 148 pounds by age 12, She once described her younger self as “a very happy, fat child who spent all my life with my mother saying, ‘Eat up, Martha,’ to my older sister and, ‘Not you, Barbara.’ ” She would later talk about her mother as a humorless, unapproachable taskmaster..