A light went out Tuesday with the passing of our former first lady Barbara Bush, the wife of President George H.W. Bush and mother of George W. Bush.

Mrs. Bush died peacefully at her home in Houston at age 92. Services are Saturday in Houston.

History will remember and document Barbara as a symbol of compassion, dignity and grace. Her profound ability to comfort the country during difficult and dangerous times made her a national treasure who can never be replaced.

Mrs. Bush was the cornerstone of a dynasty that produced two presidents, the former governor of Florida, and Colorado’s State Treasurer Walker Stapleton — who kept in touch with “Aunt Barb” in the final days of her life.

“She was the unique type of woman who could tell you to go jump in a lake in colorful language. You would listen to her tell you that, and then you just wanted to give her a big hug. Everything she did was in love,” said Stapleton, whose mother is a first cousin to former President George H.W. Bush.

“She has been a constant presence in my life since my earliest days as a child. I called her ‘Aunt Barb’ and spent a portion of every year of my life with her since I was born — holidays, family gatherings, weddings. She could give you a tongue lashing like nobody else. She would not tolerate rude behavior, selfishness, or bad manners of any kind. She expected you to comport yourself the right way.”

Stapleton said Mrs. Bush expected everyone in her family — including her husband and children — to respect anyone they encountered in their personal or professional roles.

“She had the innate ability to treat all people, regardless of background, equally and with respect and civility,” he said. “I want my two young daughters to embody those values.”

As first lady, Mrs. Bush emphasized the importance of family and literacy. She was the mother of six children, including daughter Robin who died as a child from leukemia. She helped her son, Neil, overcome dyslexia.

“We’re seeing an outpouring of love from people from all walks of life tonight,” Stapleton said within hours of her death. “That’s perhaps the greatest testament to the person she was. She would not want anyone to mope around and be sad about her passing. She would advise us to share a funny story about her and get on with it.”

People around the globe this week give thanks to Barbara Bush for devoting her life to love, compassion, discipline and grace. The world will be a better place if it never forgets the example Mrs. Bush set for us all.

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