A Look Inside Barbara Bush's Love Story With George H. W. Bush

The Longest Married Couple in Presidential History

Updated 04/18/18

David Hume Kennerly

The world has lost a female force to be reckoned with. Beloved former First Lady Barbara Bush, the wife of U.S. President George H. W. Bush, passed away last night at the age of 92. Bush made history as the second woman to have both a husband and son (George W. Bush) take over the Oval Office. On an equally significant note, the Bush matriarch also reached another milestone over the duration of her lengthy lifetime—maintaining a successful marriage for 73 years and generating a not-so-well-known modern-day love story that we can all aspire toward. From the pair's World War II love letters to Barbara's support of her husband's presidency, her heart-touching relationship with her husband George will have you ready to grab your tissues.

Barbara Pierce and George H. W. Bush kicked off their storybook romance as teenagers after first crossing paths at a Christmas party. The two dated long distance for a year and a half before George left to fly in World War II. Right before his deployment in August of 1943, he proposed.

As a token of his affection for his future bride, George named his torpedo bomber "Barbara," and he kept the spark alive by penning notes to his leading lady while overseas. The letters, which are currently preserved in the George H. W. Bush Library and Museum, offer insight into the couple's true love for one another, making them the original #RelationshipGoals.

"I love you, precious; with all my heart," George wrote in 1943. "And to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday. Goodnite, my beautiful. Every time I say beautiful, you about kill me, but you'll have to accept it." All significant others, take note!

George was shot down over the Pacific Ocean on September 2, 1944, but he returned home to marry his love four months later. On January 6, 1945, at the age of 19, Barbara's first-kiss sweetheart officially became her husband.

After George finished his degree at Yale and the couple welcomed their first son, George Walker, the family packed up and moved to Texas. George Sr. began a career in the oil business before delving into politics. Every love story has its trials and tribulations, and in 1949 the couple's second child, three-year-old daughter Robin, died of leukemia. However, fast forward 10 years and the Bush family had grown from three to seven as they welcomed children Neil, Jeb, Marvin, and Dorothy.

Barbara stood by her husband's side as his political career took off and the Bush family moved from state to state. Similarly, George's unfaltering love for his bride never wavered, even during a period of depression she experienced in the 1970s.

"Night after night, George held me weeping in his arms while I tried to explain my feelings," Barbara said. "I almost wonder why he didn't leave me."

George first made his way into the White House in 1981 as president Ronald Reagan's vice president for two consecutive terms. Then, in 1988, he had his own time to shine after winning the presidential election. Twelve years later, their eldest son followed in his father's footsteps and claimed the role of the 43rd president of the United States.

Even with their ups and downs, Barbara wrote in her 1994 memoir that she and her husband were "the two luckiest people in the world, and when all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family, and friends. We have been inordinately blessed, and we know that."

Even in their 90s, it appeared the couple's honeymoon phase never faded. Recent photos showed the Bushes holding hands and Barbara applying sunscreen to her wheelchair-bound husband's nose at a baseball game.

Six children and almost eight decades of marriage later, Barbara Bush's legacy will never be forgotten. Known as a loyal friend with a good sense of humor, she will be missed by many.

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