Remembering Alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43

Remembering Beloved Alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43

Barbara Pierce Bush '43 | Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC

In April, the entire Ashley Hall community was saddened to learn of the passing of one of its most esteemed and beloved alumnae, Barbara Pierce Bush, Class of 1943. 

We treasure the memories of Barbara Bush’s visits to campus, most recently in February 2016 when our students had the pleasure of escorting her through the Elizabeth Rivers Lewine ’54 House for Global Studies, home of Ashley Hall’s international studies program. We especially relished hearing about her own Ashley Hall adventures, told with her signature warmth and wit.

Barbara Bush will forever hold a special place in the history and ethos of our School, and we take much pride in the fact that she was an Ashley Hall graduate. Through her character, resilience, and integrity, Barbara Bush will always be an inspiration to us all. Click on the button below to view photos from her visit in 2016.

Barbara Pierce Bush ’43 Visit to Ashley Hall in 2016

*photos by Anne Jervey Rhett Photography

Barbara Pierce Bush '43 and Ashley Hall

Ashley Hall Students Visit alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43 in the White House in 1989
Ashley Hall Students Visit Ashley Hall alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43 in the White House in 1989
Ashley Hall Students Visit Ashley Hall alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43 in the White House in 1989
Ashley Hall Students Visit Ashley Hall alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43 in the White House in 1992
Ashley Hall Students Visit Ashley Hall alumna and Former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush '43 in the White House in 1992
Barbara Pierce Bush '43 | Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC
Barbara Pierce Bush '43 | Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC
Barbara Pierce Bush '43 | Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC
Ashley Hall alumna and former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush '43 visits campus in 2016

Barbara Pierce Bush '43 Time at Ashley Hall

Barbara Pierce Bush '43 | Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC

  • Barbara Pierce Bush came to Charleston and Ashley Hall in 1940 as a boarding student and graduated with the Class of 1943. She followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Martha Pierce Rafferty, who graduated from Ashley Hall in 1937.
  • While at Ashley Hall, Mrs. Bush served as team captain (she was a proud Purple!) for various campus sporting events and activities and performed the role of an angel in the School’s venerable Christmas Play, which is still staged each year.
  • Her formative time at Ashley Hall prepared Mrs. Bush for entrance in 1943 into Smith College, another prestigious single gender education institution.
  • In 1984, Mrs. Bush spoke at Ashley Hall’s 75th graduation. She reflected on her ties to the school by saying, “Ashley Hall taught me the importance of friendship and values. They were treasured years and remembered fondly.”
  • Bush was always a gracious hostess welcoming several Ashley Hall classes to the White House during President Bush’s term in office.
  • Her last visit to campus was February 2016 while on the campaign trail for son Jeb Bush during the South Carolina Republican primary. She spoke with the entire student body and regaled them with stories of her time on campus. When asked about her favorite Ashley Hall memory, Mrs. Bush playfully answered, “I have lots of great memories of my time here. Particularly receiving letters from a young man named George Bush!” She met her husband while home from Ashley Hall during a Christmas break. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ashley Hall Accomplishments

Ashley Hall alumna and former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush '43 visits campus in 2016

1941:

Barbara Pierce Bush ’43 was a Speaking Angel in the annual Ashley Hall Christmas Play

1942:

  • She was known as a champion speed-knitter and sewed squares together for an afghan as part of the war relief
  • Performed in the Jazz dance recital
  • Played Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Click here to read an article about Barbara Pierce’s performance as Beatrice from 1942, (The Charleston Evening Post)

1943 (Senior Year):

  • Awarded the Promptness Pin
  • Played the part of Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Click here to read an article about Barbara Pierce’s performance as Viola in 1943, (The News and Courier)
  • Won The Rosalie McCabe Cup which was given to a student for her sportsmanship and participation in sports and general activities

*photo above by Anne Jervey Rhett Photography

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Ashley Hall is an private school for girls, serving kindergarten through twelfth grade students, with a coeducational preschool in Charleston, South Carolina.
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