How many brothers does George W. Bush have?
By Doug Wead
After meeting with my kids in California the mailbag is overflowing so I am going to try to answer some of these questions by blog. At least three people have wondered about the president’s brothers. I guess they learned of the ongoing work that Mary Achor and I are doing on presidential siblings. Hopefully, someday it will be the third book in a trilogy on presidential families. The first two books are All the Presidents’ Children and The Raising of a President, about the children and parents of presidents respectively.
It has been my humble privilege to meet most of these Bush children and siblings of presidents, all of them but Robin, so I will offer here a brief bio on each and my own take away observations. It is a remarkable family.
George W. Bush is one of four sons and two daughters, all born to former president, George Herbert Walker Bush and his wife, Barbara Pierce Bush.
President George W. Bush, the eldest son, was born July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Ct. He came to Washington in March, 1987 where he worked for his father’s presidential campaign. During that period I worked at his side in helping to garner the votes of evangelical Christians for his father’s effort. In the waning months of the election he began his efforts to put together a financial team to buy the Texas Rangers. In 1994 he was elected governor of the State of Texas. In 2000 he was elected president.
Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush was born, December 20, 1949. She died of leukemia in 1953.
John Ellis “Jeb” Bush was born February 11, 1953. He was the Florida Secretary of Commerce in 1987 when I had a one on one lunch with him in Tallahassee. I was doing some things for his dad and he wanted us to meet. Soft spoken, bright, Jeb was the one son in the family who was expected to do well and to follow in his father’s footsteps. There was a time when elder brother, George, was struggling with his life and little brother, Jeb, was a multimillionaire in Florida real estate. In 1998, Jeb Bush was elected governor of Florida.
Neil Mallon Bush was born January 22, 1955. IMHO, Neil has the best personality in the family and may be the best public speaker. He has been a popular featured corporate speaker to audiences of thousands on four continents. His education program, Ignite, has helped foster a revolution in teaching methods. Early family talk suggested that he would one day run for governor of Colorado but Neil has declined efforts to involve him in public life. I’ve had the privilege of traveling with Neil and my family once enjoyed a leisurely dinner at Maxims in Paris with Neil’s family.
Marvin Peirce Bush was born October 22, 1956. He runs his own investment banking firm in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. Shortly after his father was elected president my brother, Bill, and I took Marvin out to eat at a classy Italian restaurant in Alexandria. We asked if any from his generation were likely to get into the political game. “Well, Jeb, seems to be headed that way,” he said. “We think he has an opportunity.”
“What about George?” I asked, after all George was the oldest in the family and as my boss, I guess, I was a little defensive for him.
“George?” Marvin said, chuckling, “He’s the family clown. He’s not going to go anywhere.” He was joking. Actually, Marvin and George became quite close during the latters presidential years.
Dorothy Bush Koch was born August 18, 1959. She is an author and involved in numerous charities. I will never forget February 8, 1988, her father had just come in third place in the Iowa Caucus and it looked as if his political career was over. There were rumors that he was going to accept a job as president of the Purolator Company. I sat with Doro in the bar of the headquarters hotel until late in the night, assuring her that it was not over, that her dad was going to win the nomination and the presidency.
The eerie mirror:
Shortly after his father was elected president, George W. Bush encouraged me to write a memo on what happens to presidential children. When I finally gave it to him, I pointed out the curious mirrored image of the Bush kids and the children of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Both were families of four boys and one girl. Both had a fifth sibling that died in childhood. One Roosevelt went to Florida where he ran for office, just like Jeb. One went west, just like Neil. And FDR, Jr. went home to the family base in New York where he ran for governor.
“Did he win?” asked Bush? We both knew that he was planning to return to Texas and run for governor.
“No,” I said. “No son of a president has ever been elected governor.”
He groaned. It was his only reaction to the forty four page memo. But the Bush family would break that barrier, electing not one, but two sons of a president as governors of a state.