USPS logo LINK — USPS employee news Printable

Letters to Barbara

Former first lady was fond of mail

Barbara Bush enters classroom full of elementary-age students
Barbara Bush visits Kettering Elementary School in Largo, MD, in 1992 to promote a USPS program that encouraged schoolchildren to write letters.

Barbara Bush is being remembered this week as a champion of literacy — an enthusiasm that included the art of letter writing.

The former first lady, who died April 17 at age 92, had more than one pen pal during her lifetime.

Bush received many letters from her husband, George H.W. Bush, while they were engaged and he was serving as a Navy pilot during World War II.

“I love you precious with all my heart and to know you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday,” George wrote in one note.

During their White House years, Barbara was a proponent of Wee Deliver, a USPS literacy program that encouraged schoolchildren to write letters, and George and Barbara’s Christmas card list reportedly contained 10,000 names.

Barbara also got her share of fan mail — sometimes from surprising sources.

After the first lady was quoted in the press describing the then-hot TV show “The Simpsons” as “the dumbest [she] had ever seen,” she received a letter from none other than Marge Simpson.

“I always believed in my heart that we had a great deal in common. Each of us living our lives to serve an exceptional man,” the letter read.

Barbara wrote back, telling Marge: “Clearly you are setting a good example for the rest of the country. Please forgive a loose tongue.”

In 2004, President George W. Bush visited one of his mother’s pen pals: Kelli Stewart, a 12-year-old livestock show participant who named one of her cows Barbara Bush.

Barbara made light of her four-legged namesake during an interview, saying if the cow won, she could envision the headlines: “Barbara Bush wins fat stock show.”

But among her admirers, the first lady’s exchanges with her husband seem to stand out most.

In a segment on NBC’s “Today” a few years ago, the couple read some of their letters, including one that George penned his wife on their 49th wedding anniversary.

“You’ve given me joy that few men know,” he wrote. “I’ve climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”

Post-story highlights