Barbara Bush: These 17 Timeless Quotes by the Former First Lady Will Inspire You

Born in 1925, Barbara Bush — wife of George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, and mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States — was one of the nation’s most beloved First Ladies. Sadly, she died this week in Houston, Texas at the home she shared with her husband after a series of hospitalizations. She will be laid to rest Saturday after a funeral service to be held adjacent to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A&M University.

Barbara Bush was well known for being outspoken, a quick wit, and an ardent supporter of literacy, education, AIDS awareness, and other important social causes. But she was also known for being a devoted wife and mother — always keeping her family at the center of her universe. Given the code name “Tranquility” by the Secret Service, Barbara Bush wrote a popular autobiography in 1994, and a children’s book about the White House adventures of her family’s Springer Spaniel.

While Barbara Bush is no longer with us, her words — which sometimes sparked controversy for the plainspoken, unvarnished way she presented them — will live forever. Here are 17 of her most memorable quotes.

1. “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people — your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”

2. “When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.”

3. “I hate the fact that people think ‘compromise’ is a dirty word.”

4. “You don’t just luck into things as much as you would like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities.”

5. “Believe in something larger than yourself…get involved in the big ideas of your time.”

6. “Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”

7. “If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.”

8. “Whether you are talking about education, career, or service, you are talking about life. And life must really have joy. It’s supposed to be fun.”

9. “Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family.”

10. “You have two choices in life; you can either like what you do or dislike what you do. I have chosen to like what I do.”

11. “Libraries have always seemed like the richest places in the world to me, and I’ve done some of my best learning and thinking thanks to them.”

12. “Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.”

13. “People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring.”

14. “Study hard, work hard, and play hard too.”

15. “Why be afraid of what people will say? Those who care about you will say, ‘Good luck!’ and those who care only about themselves will never say anything worth listening to anyway.”

16. “Don’t cry over things that were or things that aren’t. Enjoy what you have now to the fullest.” 

17. “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”