Bronze Statue Dedicated in Honor of Barbara Bush Captures the Former First Lady Reading from a Book
Photo by Michelle Watson
In partnership with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation (Foundation), Houston Public Library Foundation (HPL Foundation), and Houston Public Library, the City of Houston unveiled a statue of, and held a dedication to, Former First Lady Barbara Bush at the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza at the Houston Public Library Downtown on September 28, 2023. Commissioned by the organizations mentioned above, the statue will serve as the centerpiece of the Barbara Bush Memorial Garden located within the Plaza.
The dedication was attended by Mayor Sylvester Turner; family members of the late President George H.W. and First Lady Barbara Bush, including Neil Bush (son) and his wife Maria Bush, Pierce Bush (grandson) and his wife Sarahbeth Bush, Jim Pierce (nephew), and Clemmie Pierce Martin (great niece); Dr. Julie Baker Finck, president and CEO of the Foundation; Licia Green Ellis, Houston Public Library Foundation Board Chair; and Dr. Rhea Lawson, Houston Public Library Director. The invocation was offered by Reverend Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., Rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
Artists at Randolph Rose sculpted the custom bronze statue, the first stand-alone statue of the former first lady in Texas, which took two years to design and create. The life-size image, wearing her signature pearls and sitting on a six-foot “open book” bench with her dog Millie by her side, depicts her in the act of reading, as if to a group of children. It is a reminder of something she did often for children around the country who would gather to hear her read.
“Mom championed a literacy movement across America and believed that learning how to read, write, and comprehend was a fundamental human right,” said Neil Bush, son of President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush and Cochair of the Foundation. “The statue is an incredible tribute to her legacy and captures Mom’s essence, as she truly loved reading to children in schools across our nation and beyond with her beloved dogs in tow.”
Mayor Turner stated, “This statue stands as a tribute to Barbara Bush’s incredible 30-year commitment to helping countless people across our country gain the life-changing literacy skills they need to thrive in the workforce, family, and society. May this statue serve as a constant reminder of her dedication and inspire us all to give in service to others and make reading a priority in our homes and communities."
The Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza is located between the historic Julia Ideson Building and the Central Library of the Houston Public Library in downtown Houston and contains five bronze book benches sponsored by the Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy Guild in 2022.
About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation (Foundation) is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy. Over the past 10 years, the Foundation has spearheaded innovative literacy programs and expanded access to high-quality services and resources that empower children, families, and adults with the support they need to learn how to read, write, and comprehend.
For more information about the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, please visit bushoustonliteracy.org. For more information on the exciting events and programs coming to the HPL Central Library and Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza, please visit Houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.