Chattanoogans remember former First Lady Barbara Bush
Tom Griscom, former communication director for the Reagan Administration, spent plenty of time with Barbara Bush. He remembers her as a bold woman who treated everyone with love and respect no matter which side of the aisle they were on.
The country is remembering one of the most beloved first ladies in modern history. Barbara Bush died at her Houston home Tuesday night. She was 92.
A family spokesperson said she had been suffering with congestive heart failure. The former first lady touched a lot of lives in every place she visited, including the lives of Chattanoogans. Those who knew her said they are remembering her as a great woman who loved her family dearly.
Tom Griscom was Ronald Reagan's communication director in the 1980's when George H. Bush was Vice President. Griscom spent plenty of time with Barbara Bush. He remembers her as a bold woman who treated everyone with love and respect no matter which side of the aisle they were on.
“She understood what her husband did and she said she had a household to run, and she did it,” Griscom said.
Barbara Bush holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Americans.
“Her husband had the strong political image that was there," Griscom said. "She was that anchor, she was that rock that held it all together.”
Tom Griscom spent two years in the White House, often running into Barbara. He vividly remembers the day, then president Ronald Reagan, came home from delivering the famous Berlin Wall speech. On the White House lawn, Second Lady at the time, Barbara Bush proudly welcomed everyone home.
“There she stood not just welcoming the President and First Lady," Griscom said. "Everybody who'd been on that trip, she stood there and shook everybody's hand.”
Mrs. Bush did not only spend her time in the White House, she made almost a dozen stops to the Scenic City, and in 2000 she was there when President Bush threw at the first pitch at the Lookouts Stadium.
“She autographed balls before the game. It was the very first game in that park,” said Historian at the Chattanooga Public Library Mary Helms.
Griscom remembers the former First Lady as sincere but not afraid to speak her mind.
“I hope they look at Mrs. Bush and think, I hope this is what my mother is like," Griscom said. "Stern if you need to be, caring, give you the hand up when you need it, but often willing to say you maybe shouldn’t have done this, maybe think about doing it another way next time.”
The loss of her light and love felt by her family, is also shared by all who knew her. From the people whose lives were changed by her leadership to her passion, through her work in literacy.
“Because if you can read, if you can write, if you are literate, you can be anything you want to be," Griscom said. "That is why she continued to do that, long after she left the White House.”
Friday, the public will have the chance to say a final goodbye. Saturday there will be a private funeral. Mrs. Bush will be buried in College Station at her husband’s presidential library on the Texas A&M University campus.