Woman recalls time Barbara Bush saved her from drowning at Galleria-area apartment complex

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter

HOUSTON - "Dear Mrs. Barbara Bush,” began a thank-you letter from Donna Abert Andrich to her former neighbor, Barbara Bush.

Andrich said she was about 5 years old when their two families lived at an apartment complex on Del Monte Drive near Sage Road in Tanglewood in Houston.

Andrich said the families were both waiting for their homes to be built. She said the Bushes had just moved to Houston from Midland.

Over the years, Andrich said she wanted to write to Bush to thank her. In 2014, she said, she wrote a letter but never sent it. In the letter, Andrich said, "Not sure if you ever shared or told anyone about your very heroic act. You saved my life but jeopardized your own.”

Andrich said Bush saw her as she sank deeper and deeper into the swimming pool at their apartment complex. She wrote, “I was playing in the pool and watching the adults from the shallow end when I slipped down under and began to realize I was under everyone’s legs drifting farther down. I did not know how to swim nor was I wearing a life jacket. I remember it being very pleasant and really didn’t know I was drowning!”

Andrich said she could not swim. She said, "You were the only one to see me Mrs. Bush! You immediately got out of your chair and jumped in and pulled me out! I don’t think you were wearing a bathing suit either.”

She said Bush invited her and her family into the Bush family apartment. Andrich said she remembers the time well. She said, "Very vividly. I also remember visiting ... she asking myself and my parents into their apartment ... sitting at the dining room table and this most beautiful portrait of a little girl ... her daughter Robin who she had lost to leukemia."

In the letter, she continued, “You told them that I looked so much like a daughter you had lost, Robin. You invited us into your apartment showed us the beautiful painting of your daughter Robin. We were amazed how similar she and I looked alike.”

Andrich wants to thank Bush, who tirelessly promotes literacy, just like the retired teacher. Andrich said, "I've always wanted to let her know that I became a teacher due to her for saving my life."

As Bush relies on comfort care, Andrich hopes Bush and her family find comfort in this story of a life saved, long before the Bush family was a household name.

Andrich added, "I think she does need to hear it and I think that her family needs to know this."

Andrich concluded the letter, written in 2014, “I’m retired now, still living in Houston and would like to thank you for your selfless act of bravery and am very grateful for you being there at the right time!”

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