Miller Center

George H. W. Bush: Family Life

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George H. W. Bush was known throughout his career as a decent and generous man who tried to do what he thought was right. He was very loyal and known for his ability to connect with people on a personal level. He had more difficulty connecting with large audiences and was generally considered a poor public speaker. He was also an energetic and competitive sportsman throughout his life, and he continued that tradition as President. He often went running in Washington, D.C., and played golf and tennis in Maine. He always enjoyed a game of horseshoes and had courts built at both the White House and Camp David. Bush married Barbara Pierce in January 1945, while he was on leave from the Navy during World War II. The Bushes have had a strong marriage, and they seemed to be true partners, although Barbara decided not to speak publicly about policy during her husband's tenure as President. Her comfort with her grandmotherly image, her graciousness, and her ability to poke fun at herself endeared her to the nation and the press corps.

The Bushes have five children: George Walker, John Ellis "Jeb", Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy "Doro". Their second child, Robin, died in 1953 of leukemia when she was four years old. George and Barbara are very family-oriented, often gathering for family get-togethers, and they usually spend some time in August with children, grandchildren, and extended family in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Stephen Knott

Professor Knott is an Associate Professor in the National Security Decision Making Department at the United States Naval War College. Prior to joining the War College faculty, he served as project director for the Ronald Reagan and Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Projects at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. His writings include:

The Reagan Years (Facts on File, 2005)

Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth (University Press of Kansas, 2002)