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George W. Bush marries Laura Welch in Midland, Texas

On this day in 1977, 31-year-old future President George W. Bush marries 33-year-old Laura Welch at the First United Methodist Church in her hometown of Midland, Texas.

Bush was the son of George H.W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. Both father and son worked in the oil business in Texas before entering politics. Laura taught elementary school in Houston before getting her master’s degree in library science in 1972 and becoming a school librarian. The couple met at a friend’s barbecue in 1977 and went miniature golfing on their first date. They were married three months later in a small, modest ceremony attended by family and friends.

Early into their marriage, Laura enthusiastically supported her husband’s bids for political office and over time became an astute and effective campaign asset. Still, Bush failed to win his first election (a bid for Congress in 1978) and the couple settled down to raising two children while Bush returned to the oil business. He served as CEO of Arbusto Oil (later renamed Bush Exploration Company) from 1979 to 1988 and became part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in 1989. In 1986, while George H.W. Bush was serving as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, Laura Bush was discreetly instrumental in helping her husband overcome an addiction to alcohol. Two years later, Laura campaigned for her father-in-law’s successful presidential bid and in 1994 supported her husband’s decision to run for governor of Texas. In 2000, Bush became president in a contested and controversial campaign against Democratic Vice President Al Gore.

As first lady, Laura Bush successfully evaded the controversy surrounding her predecessor, the outspoken Hillary Clinton, by keeping a relatively low profile. She was careful in her choice of policy issues to champion, avoiding highly controversial subjects like health care and abortion rights. She often speaks in support of her husband’s education policies and was highly visible in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At that time, she attended forums on the mental health of children affected by the terrorist attacks, and in 2003, after Bush ordered an invasion of Afghanistan, met with Afghani women who had suffered terrible repression under that country’s Taliban regime. In November 2001, Laura Bush made history by being the first first lady to deliver the weekly presidential radio address in place of her husband.

George and Laura Bush have twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, and maintain a home in Crawford, Texas.

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