Houston Newsmakers for April 19: Barbara Bush, Houston's first lady

Strong woman with soft heart for community

By Khambrel Marshall - Meteorologist, 'Newsmakers' Host

HOUSTON - The passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush has saddened many Houstonians, Texans and Americans.

It has also spurred an outpouring of support and love. Julie Baker Finck is the President of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and says even in the week prior to her death, Bush was thinking of ways to help others.  

“Just a week before her death she made a special request,” Finck said. “She wanted to give a gift to the Barbara Bush Library up in Spring, Texas, that had been devastated by Hurricane Harvey and it really broke her heart that families in that community no longer had a library and she wanted to do something special.” 

Finck is a guest this week on Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall and says the outpouring of support has been wonderful and fruitful. “Hundreds and hundreds of people are joining our auxiliary group, our young professional’s group, our ladies for literacy guild,” she said. “Corporations are stepping up and volunteering in many ways and I only see that commitment and that dedication continuing because everyone wants and is committed to honoring her legacy and continuing it.”

50-year friendship

Peter Roussel holds the Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Mass Communication at Sam Houston State University.

Fifty years ago he first met Barbara and George H.W. Bush when he began working as press secretary for Rep. Bush in 1969. Roussel says Mrs. Bush was an amazing woman, mentor and friend and that her legacy can be summed up in three parts.

“One, she cared. She cared about people from all walks of life. Two, her family, to which she was totally devoted and three, she had one of the most terrific senses of humor I’ve ever been around.”

Roussel recounts his relationship with the Bush family and with Mrs. Bush in particular on this week’s Houston Newsmakers.

Place in history among first ladies

Raul Ramos is a professor of history at the University of Houston.

He says Mrs. Bush had an unenviable position as First Lady having to follow Nancy Reagan in the White House, but the Bush place in history will be a solid one.

“I think that was the careful line she was walking, one where you support your family but at the same time she had her own opinions. She held those opinions very strongly but mostly in private."

More information

Julie Baker Finck, president, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation 

Peter Roussel, Warner Endowed Professor, Department of Mass Communication, Sam Houston State University

Raul Ramos, UH history professor 

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