Barbara Bush, the former first lady of the United States, is also known for her ties to the Lowcountry. She graduated for Ashley Hall in 1943 after following in her older sister’s footsteps. Mrs. Bush chose the Charleston boarding school over other prestigious boarding schools based on the rigor of the curriculum and its track-record of placing graduates in the top universities in the country, according to Jill Muti, Ashley Hall’s Head of School.
Bush went on to attend Smith College.
“Her experience here was fabulous,” said Muti. “The school meant a great deal to her. She would come back and visit.”Bush was the graduation speaker in 1984 and returned most recently in 2016 to boarding school she called home from 1940-1943.
It was a stop that would prove incomplete without a tour of her dorm room and talking with young girls about a love story that lasted decades.
“We heard some terrific stories,” said Muti. “It was a lot of fun. “Of course they wanted to know about President Bush as well. She was really sweet.”Muti said Bush told students about receiving letters from her future husband while still in school at Ashley Hall.Throughout her husband’s time in office she invited students at Ashley Hall into the White House, and alumnae have used the Ashley Hall Facebook page to share old pictures of tea-time with the former first lady in the hours after her death.“Many alumnae have been writing in and emailing literally all day long,” said Muti.
The wife of one president and the mother of another was committed to education and foreign affairs, but she also knew how to “play” from an early age.“She was in both the Christmas play and Shakespeare productions here on campus,” said Muti. “In fact, right now we're preparing one for alumnae weekend.
”Muti, who traveled to visit Bush in Houston, said it’s a spark that never faded.“She’s an extremely bright, articulate person. Humble. A lot of fun. That sense of humor. That twinkle in her eye. You can't make that up.”Ashley Hall will have a larger celebration of Bush’s life at a later time. They will also celebrate her graduating class, 1943, and all classes ending in “3” and “8” at the alumnae weekend as well as the school’s Jubilee Society, which Mrs. Bush was a member of.
In 1953, the Bush’s three-year-old-daughter, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia and sadly passed away. And this cartoon illustrating Barbara’s reunion with her daughter in Heaven made this editor wonder if perhaps someone was cutting onions in the house because SERIOUSLY BIG TEARS.