Laura Welch Bush
Partner of a President
By Anne Adams
The role of a President’s wife has varied with the times and of course with the person involved, and modern presidential spouses have a much larger role than in the past. While wives of presidents and candidates once remained completely in the background now they not only accompany their husband on the campaign trail but also speak and tour alone. Yet no matter how active they are, they are consistently expected to support their husband’s political and legislative agenda as well as their own causes, and as they do that a First Lady is ideally a partner to a president as well as her own person. Such is Laura Welch Bush.
Laura Lane Welch was born November 4, 1946 in Midland , Texas , an only child and later popular student in local schools. She received her undergraduate degree in education from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1968, then taught in Dallas and Houston elementary schools. In 1973 she completed a Master’s degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin , and then was employed by the Houston public library system. From 1974 to 1977 she was an elementary school librarian in Austin . That same year of 1977 she met George W. Bush at the home of mutual friends and they were married in November, 1977. Their twin daughters Barbara and Jenna (named after their grandmothers) were born in 1981.
Mrs. Bush got her original “first lady” experience (of Texas) as George W. Bush was elected governor in 1995 and then she entered the White House when her husband was elected president in 2000.
Following her education and life-path, Mrs. Bush has made education, women’s health and particularly reading as her special causes. She launched the first National Book Festival in association with the Library of Congress in September, 2001, to follow with the 2003 event that attracted 60,000 attendees. She has also hosted the “White House Salute to America’s Authors” featuring the works of Mark Twain, Women Writers of the West, Harlem Renaissance authors and other classic American writers. To emphasize and encourage education, Mrs. Bush has assisted various programs that recruit and assist teachers, as well as playing host to a White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers.
On the international front, Mrs. Bush serves as Honorary Ambassador for the Decade of Literacy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Mrs. Bush has also supported education to all peoples and especially women and girls. Expressing a particular interest in this area came when she became the only first lady to deliver a weekly presidential radio address during the American invasion of Afghanistan when she described the condition of women and girls living under the Taliban rulers of that country. Then in May, 2002 she addressed the Afghan people with a radio address on Radio Liberty.
Another of Mrs. Bush’s area of interest is women’s health, something she approaches with a personal interest since her mother is a breast cancer survivor. While other First Ladies or candidates’ wives have taken more of a major role in the public eye, Mrs. Bush has chosen to represent her causes and support her husband in a more low-key way, and always with skill and grace.
A native of Kansas City , Missouri , Anne grew up in northwestern Ohio , and holds degrees in history: a BA from Wilmington College , Wilmington , Ohio (1967), and a MA from Central Missouri State University , Warrensburg , Missouri (1968). A freelance writer since the early 1970s, she has published in Christian and secular publications, has taught history on the junior college level, and has spoken at national and local writers’ conferences. Her book “Brittany, Child of Joy”, an account of her severely retarded daughter, was issued by Broadman Press in 1987. She also publishes an encouragement newsletter “Rainbows Along the Way.”