Laura Bush (born Laura Lane Welch) is the wife of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, and she served as First Lady in the period 2001-2009. Laura was born in 1946, on November 4th, in Midland, Texas, and already at an early age, her parents were encouraging her to develop her reading skills, her life-long passion.
Laura’s teenage years were much like that of other young women in the area, spending time with friends and attending Robert Lee High School, but on a night in 1963 (November 6th), Laura had a pretty unique but bad experience. she drove a friend to a party around 8 in the evening on a county road and ran a stop sign.
She hit another car and the driver, fellow classmate and friend Michael Douglas, a popular student and star athlete, was killed, while Laura and her friend suffered just some minor injuries. Laura was not charged, but the feeling of guilt stayed with her throughout her life.
After she graduated from high school, she went to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University where in 1968 she earned her Bachelor’s degree in early education. She later went to the University of Texas in Austin where she earned a Master’s degree in library science. In 1977 she met George Walker Bush who ran an oil business and was the son of George H.W. Bush, the former CIA director.
The couple married that same year after which she devoted much of her time to homemaking and volunteering, though she also assisted her father-in-law with his 1980 presidential campaign. In 1981, Laura and George had twin girls that they named after the grandmothers, Jenna and Barbara, and over the next few years, she successfully encouraged George to quit drinking and to attend church.
In 1995, George W. was elected as Texas Governor, and Laura became part of the state’s public arena. She was successful in raising state funds for early reading, literacy, and early childhood development programs, she advocated the awareness of breast cancer, and raised around $1 million to support public libraries.
In 2000, George W. started campaigning for the U.S. presidency, and Laura supported George enthusiastically, delivering her first speech on a national level at the Philadelphia National Convention of the Republican Party. George won the presidential race against Democrat nominee Al Gore, but just by the smallest margin in U.S. history.
Laura intended to keep a low profile as American first lady, but that appeared not possible. After the 9/11 attacks, Laura joined her husband to comfort the nation, and she continued to support education, teacher training, and childhood development calling for better salaries for educators, and more support for Head Start programs.
Laura initiated, among many other initiatives, the national early-age reading program ‘Ready to Read-Ready to Learn’ and supported the campaign ‘Preserve America’. After George’s win in 2004, Laura was increasing her activities to support education, literacy, health and gender equality. She visited Afghanistan to open a teacher-training institute for women in that country and addressed the World Economic Forum to emphasize the relation between education and democracy.
During George’s final years as president, Laura was continuing to support women’s health initiatives, and in 2007, she established the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at Texas Tech University. In early 2009, Laura Bush and her husband went back to Dallas, Texas, and founded the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
In 2010, Laura’s memoirs ‘Spoken from the Heart’ was published, and she continues to work for education and awareness of breast cancer awareness and more women’s health issues.