Des Moines Woman Remembers Time Spent Working for Barbara Bush

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  An outpouring of support is being shared for former first lady Barbara Bush.

After a series of recent hospitalizations, Bush has decided against additional treatment. Her family says they are now focusing on "comfort care."

Mrs. Bush is the only woman since Abigail Adams to be a wife of one president and the mother of another. She married George H.W. Bush while he was a naval aviator in World War II, and they are the longest-married couple in presidential history.

A family spokesperson said "in the face of her failing health," Mrs. Bush has been "worrying not for herself but for others."

Becky Beach, a Des Moines resident, says her experience working with the former first lady inspired her philanthropic work. Beach has known Bush for more than 40 years.

“She is very practical. She is 92, and I get the feeling she's tired of being tired, and she has a lot of faith,” said Beach, who is the founder of the Puppy Jake Foundation. “Mrs. Bush was my first boss right out of college and I traveled and worked with them for four and a half years."

This was back in 1978--approximately three years before former President George H. W.'s first term in the White House as vice president. Beach was an assistant to Mrs. Bush.

“I started working for Mrs. Bush when we didn't have a Secret Service or press corps or chartered planes, so it was Mrs. Bush and myself schlepping our own bags through airports,” Beach said.

Beach says working for the Bush family taught her a valuable life lesson.

“The Bush family is so patriotic, and their philosophy is if you have been given something in life you should give back," Beach said.

In turn, Beach turned her patriotism and love for animals into a local nonprofit that matches disabled veterans with service dogs. Bush's passion was "one of the reasons why [Beach] started a nonprofit here in Des Moines."

Beach said Barbara Bush's passion is making sure all Americans can read.

“If people are educated and can read, they will do better in life than if they don’t. And she's worked tirelessly on that project," Beach said.

Beach sends her well wishes to the Bush family.